The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers." was his reference to the sponge incident. he was curiously like his brother Joe. I bet he does. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. "Hullo. Jackson intervened. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field." she said. "Go on with your breakfast. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket. The door opened. you little beast."Wrykyn will do him a world of good. In face. and the missing member of the family appeared." she said. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. but preferred him at a distance. This year it should be all right. He was a sound bat." Bob was in Donaldson's. He might get his third. anyway. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred." This was mere stereo. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. His third remark was of a practical nature. "Anyhow. Marjory. Marjory. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. That's one comfort. if he sweats. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters. Bob disdained to reply. Mike was her special ally. His figure was thin and wiry. Marjory gave tongue again. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. "besides heaps of last year's seconds." "We aren't in the same house. "All right." The aspersion stung Marjory." she muttered truculently through it. He was evidently going to be very tall some day." said Bob loftily. "I bet he gets in before you. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much. "sorry I'm late." "Considering there are eight old colours left." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. Mrs. He was fond of him in the abstract. who had shown signs of finishing it. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays." he said. Last year he had been tried once or twice. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. . and anything that affected his fortunes affected her.

put a green baize cloth over that kid. ages ago. Mike Wryky. in six-eight time." From Phyllis." "Oh. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on. Mike put on his pads. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. you know. suddenly drew a long breath. "Good. So was father. the eldest of the family. Mr. was engaged in putting up the net. It was a great moment. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease." he said. Gladys Maud Evangeline. Joe's style. the professional. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. aged three. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. Whereat Gladys Maud. The strength could only come with years. Mike was his special favourite. obliged with a solo of her own composition." began Mr. "Mike. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. "Mike. as follows: "Mike Wryky. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. and every spring since Joe. There was nothing the matter with Bob. But he was not a cricket genius. "Mike. "I say. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus. somebody." From Ella. "All the boys were there."I say. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. you're going to Wrykyn next term. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. Saunders. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. Jackson believed in private coaching. like Mike. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds." she said. but the style was there already. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . what's under that dish?" "Mike. Mike looked round the table. sound article. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. In Bob he would turn out a good." groaned Bob. assisted by the gardener's boy. Saunders. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. with improvements." "Is he." shouted Marjory. you're going to Wrykyn.

What are they like?" "Well. miss. Saunders? He's awfully good. I was only saying don't count on it. Master Mike? Play. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. "Next term!" he said. only all I say is don't count on it. didn't he. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. and that's where the runs come in. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. To-day. miss." said the professional. isn't he? He's better than Bob. It's quite likely that it will. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself." "Ah. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em." "No. you see. in a manner of speaking. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle." Marjory sat down again beside the net. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. It's all there." "But Mike's jolly strong. "Well." Saunders looked a little doubtful. I'm not saying it mightn't be. That's what he'll be playing for."School team. Ready. miss. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. it was all there. he was playing more strongly than usual. miss. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. but I meant next term. as she returned the ball. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. There's a young gentleman. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. He's got as much style as Mr. Still. The whole thing is. and watched more hopefully. perhaps. every bit. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. Don't you think he might. Saunders. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. "He hit that hard enough. and it stands to reason they're stronger. with Master Mike. miss. too. Going to a public school." "Yes. miss. I don't. You know these school professionals. you see. we'll hope for the best. It would be a record if he did. and nineteen perhaps. it's this way. especially at . Saunders?" she asked." As Saunders had said. a sort of pageant. Joe's got.

was on the verge of the first eleven. smiling vaguely. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. He was excited. in his opinion. He was alone in the carriage. however. frankly bored with the whole business. Mr. the village idiot. The air was full of last messages. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. but then Bob only recognised one house. Donaldson's. He wore a bowler hat. and carried a small . Bob. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. According to Bob they had no earthly. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. nor profound. and now the thing had come about. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. And as Marjory. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. with rather a prominent nose. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. was to board the train at East Wobsley. there was Bob. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. While he was engaged on these reflections. Bob. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering.the beginning of the summer term. though evidently some years older. the train drew up at a small station. It might be true that some day he would play for England. On the other hand. Gladys Maud cried. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. Phyllis.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. Meanwhile. and his reflections. The latter were not numerous. by all accounts. is no great hardship. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. and he was nothing special. The train gathered speed. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. in time to come down with a handsome tip). He had a sharp face. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. Mothers. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. his magazines. and Mrs. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all.

then. but. he seemed to carry enough side for three. The trainwas already moving quite fast. and took the seat opposite to Mike. sir. instead. That explained his magazineless condition. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment.portmanteau. stared at Mike again. and at the next stop got out. He realised in an instant what had happened." "Because. . the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property. Mike acted from the best motives. He seemed about to make some remark. And here." "No chance of that. I regret to say. and wondered if he wanted anything. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. thought Mike. the bag had better be returned at once. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. Anyhow." said Mike to himself. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. He opened the door. He did not like the looks of him particularly. "Good business. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks." "Here you are. but. The fellow had forgotten his bag. Besides. after all." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. let him ask for it." "Thank you. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. you know. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. sir. got up and looked through the open window. He was only travelling a short way. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag. and finally sat down. The other made no overtures. If he wanted a magazine. lying snugly in the rack." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. Judging by appearances. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. "Porter. which is always fatal. sir.

"I chucked it out. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity." said the stranger. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway. Mike grinned at the recollection. "Have you changed carriages. and. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. ." said Mike. who happened to be in the line of fire." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station.(Porter Robinson. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it." Against his will." said Mike hurriedly." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform. I say." said Mike. looking out of the window. "I thought you'd got out there for good." "It wasn't that. "Then." The guard blew his whistle.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. and the other jumped into the carriage. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window. dash it. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. "There's nothing to laugh at. The head was surmounted by a bowler. It hit a porter. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage." The situation was becoming difficult." he shouted. "The fact is. or what?" "No. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again. escaped with a flesh wound. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. "I'm awfully sorry. which did not occur for a good many miles." explained Mike. What you want is a frightful kicking. "Don't _grin_. This was one of them. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow. and said as much. Then it ceased abruptly. "Hullo. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders. you little beast. though not intentionally so. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters.

I mean. "He and Wain never get on very well. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. Bob. and it's at a station miles back. Good cricketer and footballer." said Mike. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. it's a bit thick." "Naturally. It's bound to turn up some time. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. "I've made rather an ass of myself. They'll send it on by the next train. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. I should rot about like anything. Lots of things in it I wanted. He took up his magazine again. "Hullo. thinking he'd got out." "Frightful. holidays as well as term. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. it's all right. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past. Mike." said Bob. They were discussing Wain's now. though not aggressive. rather lucky you've met. and yet they have to be together. are you in Wain's?" he said." "You're a bit of a rotter. "I swear. He's in your house." agreed Firby-Smith. Gazeka?" "Yes. "It must be pretty rotten for him."Hullo. listening the while. He realised that school politics were being talked. only he hadn't really. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's. It's just the sort . "Oh." "Oh. there you are. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term." "Frightful nuisance. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. all the same. and all that sort of thing. He grinned again. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency." "I mean. what happened was this. if I were in Wyatt's place. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required." said Bob. then it's certain to be all right. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. By the way." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether." "Oh. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. I say. "I say. never mind." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all.

Crossing the square was a short. and tell you all about things. I think you'd better nip up to the school. here we are." he concluded airily. But here they were alone. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. Hullo. Go in which direction he would. Mike made for him. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. it is simplicity itself. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. all more or less straight. with a happy inspiration. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. Silly idea. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way.of life he'll hate most. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. and a straw hat with a coloured band. which is your dorm. on alighting. Mike started out boldly. a blue blazer." Bob looked at Mike. Probably Wain will want to see you. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. Plainly a Wrykynian. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. and it's the only Christian train they run." he said." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. and lost his way. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. and looked about him." he said. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. . "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train." Mike looked out of the window. leaving him to find his way for himself. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. They'll send your luggage on later. See you later." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. and." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. It was Wrykyn at last. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. So long. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob. Mike. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. and so on. "Heaps of them must come by this line. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. Go straight on. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. has no perplexities. To the man who knows.

And ." "I know. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. You know. "How many?" "Seven altogether. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. "Pity. too?" "I played a bit at my last school. shuffling. latest model. please. A stout fellow." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. He felt that they saw the humour in things. Any more centuries?" "Yes. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes." he said. Only a private school. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers. "Hullo." said Mike. you're going to the school. you know." said Mike. square-jawed face. There's no close season for me. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. "It was only against kids. So you're the newest make of Jackson. this is fame. then?" asked Mike. "Oh. He had a pleasant." "Are you there. You can't quite raise a team." said the other. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. "You look rather lost. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. you know." said Mike." said Mike awkwardly." added Mike modestly."Can you tell me the way to the school. it was really awfully rotten bowling. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. How did you know my name. are you Wyatt. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing." "Oh. "That's pretty useful." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging. He's in Donaldson's." said the stranger." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time.

Look here." said Wyatt. "That's Wain's. down in the Easter holidays. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. but that's his misfortune." "All the same. cut out of the hill. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. We all have our troubles." "Oh. I was just going to have some tea. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. it's jolly big. answering for himself. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. "He's all right. They skirted the cricket field." he said. I believe. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. He felt out of the picture. Let's go in here. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. At the top of the hill came the school." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. And my pater always has a pro. a beautiful piece of turf. walking along the path that divided the two terraces. You come along. thanks awfully. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps. which gave me a bit of an advantage. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. At Emsworth. I know. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. and took in the size of his new home. where. a shade too narrow . He was glad that he had met Wyatt. The next terrace was the biggest of all. everything. That's his." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. Everything looked so big--the buildings." said Mike." "Yes. We shall want some batting in the house this term. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. "I say." said Mike cautiously. though no games were played on it.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. Mike followed his finger. the grounds. too." said Wyatt." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. He's head of Wain's." said Mike.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

"Oh. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. please. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. Bob was changing into his cricket things. As a rule. and if it comes before we are prepared for it. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. Mike arrived. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. It did not make him conceited. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. He was older than the average new boy. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him." "Cake?" "Thanks. at school. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. "How many lumps?" "Two. and his batting was undeniable. "Oh. Beyond asking him occasionally. it is apt to throw us off our balance. There is nothing more heady than success. and his conscience smote him. Mike had skipped these years. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. all right. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. "Well." ." said Mike. all right"). He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. "Sugar?" asked Bob. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. if only for one performance. when they met. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. Silence. "Thanks. but Bob did not know this." said Mike. to give him good advice.

Jackson." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. "He said he'd look after you. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. while Bob. I'm not saying a word against you so far." added Bob. "You've been all right up to now." Mike's feelings were too deep for words." he said." "What do you mean?" said Mike. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon." said Bob. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. I should take care what . Look after him! Him!! M. and spoke crushingly." said Bob." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother." said Mike. "Oh. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you." said Mike cautiously. You know. making things worse. you've got on so well at cricket.Silence. outraged. "I can look after myself all right. if you don't watch yourself. thanks. What I mean to say is." he said at length. "Look here. "Yes?" said Mike coldly." he said. "What!" said Mike. Only you see what I mean. "He needn't trouble." said Bob. "Yes. "You know. Mike. Bob pulled himself together. "Like him?" "Yes. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner. I'm not saying anything against you so far. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. filled his cup. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience. "I shouldn't--I mean. of course. "It's only this. in the third and so on. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading. and cast about him for further words of wisdom.

Don't make a frightful row in the house. though. young man." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. but still----" "Still what?" "Well. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. so said nothing. "What rot!" said Mike. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. I wanted to see you. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. (Mike disliked being called "young man. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. all spectacles and front teeth. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. I'm going over to the nets. That youth. But don't let him drag you into anything. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. "Ah." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. met Mike at the door of Wain's." Mike followed him in silence to his study. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. A good innings at the third eleven net. if you want any more tea. spoke again. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked're doing with Wyatt." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. young man. Stick on here a bit.") "Come up to my study. I mean. he's an awfully good chap. He's that sort of chap. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you. "I promised I would. Not that he would try to." said the Gazeka. But don't you go doing it." Mike shuffled. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. You'd better be going and changing. He's never been dropped on yet. He doesn't care a hang what he does." he said. of course. "I've been hearing all about you. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. I've got to be off myself. it doesn't matter much for him. Don't cheek your . Thing is. because he's leaving at the end of the term. "All right." "What do you mean?" "Well. He felt very sore against Bob.

It was a lovely night." "Are you going out?" "I am. he walked out of the room. but he . * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. Anyhow." he said. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock." "I say." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. "No. you stay where you are. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. not with shame and remorse. increased. he burned. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. Overcoming this feeling. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. you can't. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. and hitting it into space every time. of wanting to do something actively illegal." And Wyatt." said Wyatt. Mustn't miss a chance like this. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. if he had been at home.elders and betters. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. as I'm morally certain to be some day." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. I shall be deadly. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. Specially as there's a good moon. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself. with or without an air-pistol. Wash. and up to his dormitory to change. just the sort of night on which. wriggled out. by a slight sound. So long. "Is that you. The room was almost light. but with rage and all that sort of thing. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. or night rather. He would have given much to be with him. He sat up in bed. but he had never felt wider awake. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. "When I'm caught. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. "Hullo. Cut along. He got out of bed and went to the window. too. That's all. but it was not so easy to do it. would just have suited Mike's mood." said Wyatt. Like Eric. He opened his eyes. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. and the second time he gave up the struggle. You'll find that useful when the time comes.

And this was where the trouble began. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. "Who is there?" inquired the voice." And. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. Everybody would be in bed. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. He took some more biscuits. wound the machine up. he examined the room. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. The soda-water may have got into his head. To make himself more secure he locked that door. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. then. and there was an end of it. After which. Field actually did so. This was Life. feeling a new man. A voice accompanied the banging. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. and an apple. It was quite late now. It would be quite safe. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. in spite of the fact that all was darkness."_ Mike stood and drained it in. Mr. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . consoling thought came to him. Mike recognised it as Mr. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. The next moment. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. _". feeling that he was doing himself well. Wain's. He had promised not to leave the house. There were the remains of supper on the table. the other into the boys' section. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. and set it going. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. one leading into Wain's part of the house. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. He finished it. As it swished into the glass.realised that he was on parole. he proceeded to look about him. Down the stairs. perhaps. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. after a few preliminary chords. He was not alarmed. Food. Field).. along the passage to the left. very loud and nasal. All thought of risk left him. turning up the incandescent light. as indeed he was. Mr.. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. Then a beautiful. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone.

and could get away by the other. "He'd clear out. The enemy was held in check by the locked door." thought Mike. J. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. It had occurred to him. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. the kernel of the whole thing. and found that they were after him. was that he must get into the garden somehow. on entering the room. breathless. and dashed down the dark stairs. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. The main point. though it was not likely. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. This was good. And at the same time. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. He stopped the gramophone. and get caught. to date. The handle-rattling was resumed. Evidently his . but he must not overdo the thing." The answer was simple. It was open now. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. suspicion would be diverted. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. Wain from coming to the dormitory. the most exciting episode of his life. he opened the window. Wain. that if Mr. Then he began to be equal to it. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. and he'd locked one door. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. He lay there. and reflected. Two minutes later he was in bed. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. He jumped out of bed. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. he must keep Mr. just in time. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. "Now what. and warn Wyatt." pondered Mike. "would A. and he sat up. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly.need to be alarmed. If. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. on the other hand. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. His position was impregnable.

and went in. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. Wain was a tall. I don't know why I asked. Mr. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. sir. Mike. looking out." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. Mr." "Looks like it. "What are you doing here?" said he at last." . thin man. through which he peered owlishly at Mike." "I found the window open." said Mike. "Thought I heard a noise. sir. He spun round at the knock. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. could barely check a laugh. He looked about him. "I think there must have been a burglar in here." "A noise?" "A row. sir. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. His hair was ruffled. Wain continued to stare. sir!" said Mike. and." "A noise?" "Please. please. sir. in spite of his anxiety. "Of course not. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. sir." If it was Mr. All this is very unsettling. Wain hurriedly. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown." said Mr. "So I came down." said Mike. catching sight of the gramophone. please. Mr. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. sir. "_Me_. Wain. of course not. "Of course not. He knocked at the door.retreat had been made just in time. "Please. He looked like some weird bird. I thought I heard a noise. sir. Wain was standing at the window. drew inspiration from it. He wore spectacles. a row. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. Jackson.

sir. sir." said Mr. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. Wain. you might . ruminatively. sir. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. _"Et tu. eliciting sharp howls of pain. An inarticulate protest from Mr. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again. such an ass. sir." "Yes. as who should say. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house." Mr." said Wyatt. "He might be still in the house." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. His knees were covered with mould." Mr. I mean. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. He felt that all was well. The moon had gone behind the clouds. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. Jackson. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him." "Perhaps you are right." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. Wain. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. Mike stopped. Wain looked at the shrubbery. then tore for the regions at the back. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out." cried Mike. There might be a bit of a row on his return. "Who on earth's that?" it said. "Not likely. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. "Is that you. "You young ass. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants."He's probably in the garden. He ran to the window. sir. I know.

" he said. Exceedingly so" . I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. "I couldn't find him. but you don't understand. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course. till Wain came along. I'll get back. but I turned on the gramophone." "That's not a bad least have the sense to walk quietly. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. Wain." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold. "You have no business to be excited. It was very wrong of you to search for him.' Ripping it was. it was rather a rotten thing to do. sir." And Mike rapidly explained the situation." "Please. sir. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. You dash along then. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt." said Mike." said Mr. Exceedingly so. "Undoubtedly so. come in." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. "You're a genius. You will do me two hundred lines. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please." "Undoubtedly. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird. I suppose. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. Wain was still in the dining-room. The thing was. "I never saw such a man. Come in at once. standing outside with his hands on the sill. I will not have it." Mike clambered through the window. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. you see. He must have got out of the garden. you might come down too. You have been seriously injured. Latin and English. I will not have it. and I'll go back to the dining-room. All right. if you like. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window." "Yes. Or." "It wasn't that. "But how the dickens did he hear you. Well. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. You must tread like a policeman." Mr. Have you no sense. "It's miles from his bedroom. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. so excited. sir.

I must be obeyed instantly. you understand me? To bed at once. "only he has got away. the other outside. "Under no circumstances whatever. of Donaldson's. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. The question stung Mr. preparatory to going on the river. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. getting tea ready." They made it so. Jackson? James. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. you will both be punished with extreme severity. watching some one else work. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. "Stay where you are. James--and you." "Shall I go out into the garden. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. At least Trevor was in the study. He called Mr. Mr. one leg in the room. sir?" said Wyatt. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first. . hanging over space. Wain "father" in private. James." he said. "I was under the impression. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. "We might catch him. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. and have a look round." he said." said Mike. He loved to sit in this attitude. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. Wain into active eruption once more." "But the burglar. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous." said Mike. It is preposterous. You hear me. He yawned before he spoke. Clowes was on the window-sill. sir. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. Both of you go to bed immediately. I shall not speak to you again on this subject." he said excitedly. Inordinately so. And. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. "sir" in public. In these circumstances.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. sir. "I thought I heard a noise. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep.

" said Trevor. I'm thinking of Life. we shall want some more jam to-morrow. "All right. 'Good chap. I should think. Trevor was shorter. But when it comes to deep thought. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. Trevor. Where is he? Your brother. That's a thing you couldn't do. Like the heroes of the school stories. I often say to people. Consider it unsaid. "I said. and looked sad. If you'd been a silly ass. you slacker. Did I want them spread about the school? No. Couple of years younger than me. you'd have let your people send him here. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. I mean. slicing bread. laddie. Clowes was tall. Trevor?" "One. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. which he was not." "That shows your sense." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded." "My lad. Tigellinus." said Clowes. but can't think of Life. Trevor.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn." "Silly ass. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. we see my brother two terms ago. 'One Clowes is luxury. two excess. I suppose it's fun to him. Hence. and very much in earnest over all that he did. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work. 'and he's all right." "Marlborough. I have a brother myself. I lodged a protest. Better order it to-day.' At least." breathed Trevor. as our old pal Nero used to remark. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school.' That's what I say. Aged fifteen. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them. Have you got any brothers. "Come and help. packing ." "My mind at the moment. My people wanted to send him here.'" "You were right there. I did not." "I withdraw what I said about your sense." "You aren't doing a stroke.' I say." "See it done." said Clowes." "Too busy. I said. where is he? Among the also-rans." said Trevor. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun. "One for the pot. I say. Not a bad chap in his way. Cheek's what I call it. I have always had a high opinion of your sense.

but while they're there. considering his cricket. what happens? He either lets the kid rip.up his little box." he said." "Why?" "Well. I suppose. however. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. who looks on him as no sportsman. come on." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. Bob seems to be trying the first way. naturally. It's all right." "Well?" "Look here. so far. and tooling off to Rugby. he is. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. loved by all who know me. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct. It's just the one used by chaps' people. You say Jackson's all right. It's the masters you've got to consider." "Jackson's all right." said Trevor. it's the limit. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. My heart bleeds for Bob." "What a rotten argument." "Young Jackson seems all right. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here." "That's just it. and he's very decent. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. I've talked to him several times at the nets. If I frown----" "Oh. which is what I should do myself. "Mr. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. It may be all right after they're left. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded. And here am I at Wrykyn. but. We were on the subject of brothers at school. too. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. Now. What's wrong with him? Besides. In other words. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. perhaps. fawned upon by masters. revered by all who don't. with an unstained reputation. At the end of that period." "What's up? Does he rag?" . But the term's hardly started yet. as I said. For once in your life you've touched the spot. he returned to his subject. the term's only just started. courted by boys. which he might easily do. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. At present. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. so he broods over him like a policeman.

He's head of Wain's. You'd only make him do the policeman business. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash." "He never seems to be in extra. and which is bound to make rows between them." "The Gazeka is a fool. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. . Let's stagger out. But what's the good of worrying. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. unless he leaves before it comes off. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. it's the boot every time. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him. For instance. I shouldn't think so." "I don't know. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. if Jackson's so thick with him. and does them. he's on the spot. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. Well." "Yes. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. tell the Gazeka. He's asking for trouble. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. and. made it impossible for him to drop the matter." "If you must tell anybody. It's nothing to do with us." Trevor looked disturbed. which he hasn't time for. anyhow." "All front teeth and side. And if you're caught at that game. Besides. however. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. every other night." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. The odds are. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. Better leave him alone. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. Still. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for." "I know. too. that he'll be roped into it too. walking back to the house. One always sees him about on half-holidays. All I say is that he's just the sort who does.

Are you busy?" "No." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. Why?" "It's this way. He'd have more chance." "I should. all right. you know. but.He found him in his study. Only he is rather mucking about this term." "I know. I meant the one here." "I should get blamed. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day." he said. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. Well?" "About your brother. Smith said he'd speak to him. "look here. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house." . It's his last. Bob. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking. I say. I spoke to him about it." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him. oiling a bat. Rather rot." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. you did? That's all right." "Don't blame him. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. J." "Oh. that I know of. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's." said Bob. W. "My brother. I forgot to get the evening paper. "That reminds me." "I've done that." "Oh. I hear." "That's all right then. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too. I think I'll speak to him again. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. bewildered. If Wyatt likes to risk it." "Nor do I." "Not a bit." "Oh. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. sitting up. then. by Jove. being in the same house. I think. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. I didn't mean that brother. That's his look out. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor. though. "I say.

at home. The next moment the thing has begun. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. to coach you in the holidays." "Yes. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. Better than J." He went back to his study. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn. I expect. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term." said Trevor. and Bob. Henfrey'll be captain. even. Nearly all the first are leaving. Pretty good for his first term.W. Some trivial episode occurs. though. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. when they meet. I asked him what he thought of me. Bob." "Well." "Better than at the beginning of the term. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. when suddenly there is a hush." "Hope so. I was away a lot. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. don't you?" "Yes. Mr. And. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. I suppose he'll get his first next year.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days. It is just the same with a row. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. "I thought I heard it go. started on his Thucydides." "Sort of infant prodigy. anyhow. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet.' There's a subtle difference. W. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. he thinks. 18. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. it's not been chucked away.s. I didn't go to him much this last time. and 51. the pro. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. and had beaten them. . I simply couldn't do a thing then. for years. You were rather in form. You have a pro. and there falls on you from space one big drop. and you are standing in a shower-bath. and he said. having finished his oiling and washed his hands." "Saunders.

and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. "P. as a . Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. Love to everybody. I had to dive for it.--I say. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. He was run out after he'd got ten.W. Jones. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket. lasted. I didn't do much. the Surrey man.S. because I didn't get an innings. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. They stop the cricket on O. He's Wain's step-son. So I didn't go in. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. On the Monday they were public property. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. only I don't quite know where he comes in. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. only they bar one another) told me about it. songs. lengthened by speeches." And. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. There's a dinner after the matches on O. Bob played for the first. together with the school choir. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. Rather decent.P. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. B. The thing had happened after this fashion. could you? I'm rather broke.--Half-a-crown would do. and 30 in a form match. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. but didn't do much.S. I wasn't in it. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. and there was rather a row. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. Still.W. day. Rather rot.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. Low down." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. He was in it all right. I hope you are quite well. I believe he's rather sick about it. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. I may get another shot. The banquet. I'll find out and tell you next time I write.--Thanks awfully for your letter. and I got bowled). and Spence). and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. and half the chaps are acting.W. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. "MIKE. "Your loving son. because they won the toss and made 215. Rot I call it. so we stop from lunch to four. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. only I'd rather it was five bob. on the back of the envelope. "P. so I played.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys.

there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. Words can be overlooked. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. But there were others. as a rule. it was not considered worth it. and had been the custom for generations back. When. brainless. show a tendency to dwindle. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. as usual. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. and then race back to their houses. This was the official programme. the town. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. and that the criticisms were. As a rule. In the present crisis. About midway between Wrykyn. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. which they used. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. all might yet have been peace. in the midst of their festivities. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. essentially candid and personal. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place.rule. But tomatoes cannot. Possibly. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. the town. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. Risks which before supper seemed great. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. the school. The school was always anxious for a row. and Wrykyn. till about ten o'clock. rural type of hooliganism. It was the custom. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. accordingly. therefore. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. . and turn in. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. and the authorities. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. for the honour of the school. and hit Wyatt on the right ear. Wrykyn." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. one's views are apt to alter. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. and.

There was a moment of suspense." he said quietly. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. Barely a dozen remained. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. now splitting up into little groups. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. at any rate at first. It struck Wyatt. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. "Now then. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. They were smarting under a sense of injury. while some dear friend of his. for they suddenly gave the fight up. But. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. panting. but two remained. The leaders were beyond recall. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. He very seldom lost his temper. . and then kicks your shins. Gloomy in the daytime. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. depressed looking pond. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. "Let's chuck 'em in there. it was no time for science." he said. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. Wyatt. and stampeded as one man. now in a solid mass. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. It raged up and down the road without a pause." it said. except the prisoners. By the side of the road at this point was a green. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. when a new voice made itself heard. and the procession had halted on the brink. it looked unspeakable at night. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring. A move was made towards the pond. The science was on the side of the school. of whose presence you had no idea. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent.

Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. "This is quite a private matter. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. scrambled out." said Mr." "I don't want none of your lip. young gentleman. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. Butt. "Ho. you chaps. are they? Come now. Mr. Butt. I expect there are leeches and things there. going in second. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman. and suspecting impudence by instinct. sprang forward. "You run along on your beat." said Wyatt. A drowning man will clutch at a straw." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. with a change in his voice. "Make 'em leave hold of us. but if out quick they may not get on to you. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. a lark's a lark. "All right. The policeman realised his peril too late. That's what we are. The prisoner did. Don't swallow more than you can help. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice." said Wyatt." "It's anything but a lark." "Stop!" From Mr. a cheer from the launching party." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. you chaps. He'll have churned up a bit. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree." "Ho!" said the policeman. whoever you are. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. Carry on. He ploughed his way to the bank. understanding but dimly. and vanished." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. and a splash compared with which . or you'll go typhoid. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. and seized the captive by the arm. You can't do anything here. but you ought to know where to stop. Butt. Constable Butt. This isn't a lark. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. a yell from the policeman. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. A howl from the townee. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke."What's all this?" "It's all right. it's an execution.

Butt fierce and revengeful. with a certain sad relish. sir. Butt. they did. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. The tomato hit Wyatt. went to look for the thrower. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. sheets of fire are racing over the country. It was no occasion for light apologies." as they say in the courts of law. and. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. but both comparisons may stand. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. we find Mr. sir. "Do you know. Wyatt. I shall--certainly----" . Butt. calling upon the headmaster. before any one can realise what is happening. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. sir. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. _Plop_!" said Mr. Following the chain of events. with others. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). Mr. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. and all was over. Police Constable Alfred Butt. Butt gave free rein to it. Yes. but in the present case. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. really!" said the headmaster." said Wyatt. The imagination of the force is proverbial. "Threw me in. and throws away the match. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. Mr. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. having prudently changed his clothes. "Really. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. and "with them.the first had been as nothing. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. and the interested neighbours are following their example. it has become world-famous." "Threw you in!" "Yes. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm.

sir. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. sir. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet." said Mr. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. Butt promptly. Butt. and I thought I heard a disturbance." "Yes--Thank you. according to discretion. She says to me. right from the beginning. They shall be punished.' And. "I was on my beat. "Couple of 'undred. sir!" said the policeman. 'Wot's this all about. sir.' I says. sir. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. too." "Yes." "I have never heard of such a thing. He . Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake. As it was. sir. 'Why. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood.' I says.' And." concluded Mr. 'a frakkus." "H'm--Well. I wonder?' I says. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. sir. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying. and fighting. constable. "I _was_ wet. I says to myself. sir." "Yes. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. I can hardly believe that it is possible. "Two hundred!" "It was dark." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. beginning to suspect something. sir. Wringin' wet. Had he been a motorist. Good-night. sir! Mrs. They actually seized you. "How many boys were there?" he asked. and I couldn't see not to say properly. Lots of them all gathered together. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story." "Good-night. with the air of one confiding a secret. ''Allo. Butt started it again. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. again with the confidential air. Mr." he added. sir. I will look into the matter at once." The headmaster's frown deepened.

It could not understand it. become public property. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. expend itself in words. They were not malicious. was culpable. it is certain--that. It must always. blank. though not always in those words. "There'll be a frightful row about it.. It happened that. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. had approved of the announcement exceedingly.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. of course. and in private at that. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. he got the impression that the school. There is every probability--in fact. and not of only one or two individuals. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. but for one malcontent. When condensed. which at one time had looked like being fatal. And here they were. astounded "Here. always ready to stop work. Only two days before the O. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. As it was. A public school has no Hyde Park.W. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. which was followed throughout the kingdom. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. It was one vast. The blow had fallen. right in it after all. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. The school was thunderstruck. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. and the school. about a week before the pond episode. The pond affair had. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. or nearly always. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. ." they had said. as a whole. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. I say!" Everybody was saying it. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. and finally become a mere vague memory. he would have asked for their names. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday.. however.. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term.

The malcontent was Wyatt. a daring sort of person. Wyatt was unmoved. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. and scenting sarcasm. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. and he was full of it. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt." . intense respect for order and authority. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority. their ironbound conservatism. I'm not going to. It requires genius to sway a school. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. Before he came to Wyatt." Neville-Smith stopped and stared." "You're rotting. and that it was a beastly shame." "Why not?" said Wyatt. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. as a whole. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons. and. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. a day-boy. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. and probably considered himself. Leaders of men are rare. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter." "All right. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. that it was all rot. He said it was a swindle. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. He added that something ought to be done about it. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. "Well. even though he may not approve of it. on the whole. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets.

Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl. what a score. If the whole school took Friday off." said Neville-Smith after a pause."No. wouldn't it be?" "Yes." "By Jove. ragging barred." "All right. Wyatt whistling." "I say. they couldn't do much." "You'll get sacked." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith. "Do. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings. but. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea. But only because I shall be the only one to do it. "I say. excited way." "That would be a start." "Not bad. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority." Another pause. I say. They couldn't sack the whole school." "I suppose so." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone. Are you just going to cut off. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow." said Wyatt. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses. I believe. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . I should be glad of a little company. nor could they! I say!" They walked on. and let you know. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. Groups kept forming in corners apart. "It would be a bit of a rag." "I could get quite a lot.

saying it was on again all right.W. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. to Brown. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. rather to the scandal of the authorities. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. The majority of these lived in the town. and walked to school." "So should I." "Somebody would have turned up by now." "So do I. it's just striking.'s day row. Why. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. came on bicycles. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. Some one might have let us know. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. and at three minutes to nine. "It's jolly rum. what a swindle if he did.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. I can't make it out. who. were empty. I should have got up an hour later. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. of the Lower Fifth. however. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. "I say." . I say. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters. A few. as a general rule. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school." said Willoughby. though unable to interfere. but it had its leaven of day-boys. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. whose homes were farther away. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning. Punctuality is the politeness of princes. the only other occupant of the form-room. trying to get in in time to answer their names. The form-rooms. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. like the gravel. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick." said Brown.

" It was the master of the Lower Fifth. sir. Not a single one. here _is_ somebody." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. The usual lot who come on bikes. as you say. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. Spence seated himself on the table. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. sir. and looked puzzled."Hullo." he said. "Well. Brown. sir. sir. as was his habit. if the holiday had been put on again. he stopped in his stride. and a few more were standing." "I've heard nothing about it." Mr." Mr. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. Spence told himself. Spence as he entered. Mr. He walked briskly into the room. Spence." "Yes." "We were just wondering. sir. Spence pondered. as he walked to the Common Room. Spence?" Mr. He was not a house-master. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. We were just wondering. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up." "Have you seen nobody?" "No. sir. And they were all very puzzled. . I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been. "Willoughby. after all. there is a holiday to-day. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. A brisk conversation was going on. Seeing the obvious void. Spence. we don't know. and the notice was not brought to me." "None of the boarders?" "No. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. Perhaps. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are. "Hullo. sir. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. Several voices hailed Mr." "This is extraordinary.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. Presently the sounds grew more distinct." the leading inn of the town. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. He always told that as his best story. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. as generalissimo of the expedition." said Wyatt. And the army lunched sumptuously. and as evening began to fall. faintly. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. In the early afternoon they rested. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. * * * * * At the school. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. and he always ended with the words. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. please. fortunately. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. with comments and elaborations. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. it melted away little by little. the march home was started. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. each house claiming its representatives. In addition. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. "Anything I can do for you. Other inns were called upon for help. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. It was not a market-day. Wyatt. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. At the school gates only a handful were left." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. jam. "Yes." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. They looked weary but cheerful. . singing the school song. At Worfield the expedition lunched. net practice was just coming to an end when. and apples. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. Private citizens rallied round with bread. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. As the army drew near to the school. And two days later. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force.his paper. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic.

overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. There was. "Hullo. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. It hasn't started yet. met Wyatt at the gate. thought the school. I thought he would." Wyatt was damping. were openly exulting. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance. Finds the job too big to tackle. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. "I say. Now for it. speechless." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. isn't it! He's funked it. "this is all right. The school streamed downstairs. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. and gazed at him. What do you mean? Why?" "Well." he chuckled." said Wyatt. walking back to Donaldson's. "My dear chap. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town." he said.Bob Jackson. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. indeed." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. they didn't send in the bill right away. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them." He then gave the nod of dismissal. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features. But it came all . All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. marvelling. This was the announcement. The less astute of the picnickers.

You wait. "None of the kids are in it. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them." "Thanks. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked." "Sting?" "Should think it did." "Glad you think it funny." . "I don't know what you call getting off. You wouldn't have if you'd been me." said Mike." said Clowes. To-day. and post them outside the school shop. "By Gad.right." said Mike ruefully. I never saw such a man. I'm glad you got off. "What!" "Yes. I notice. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. who was walking a little stiffly. Only the bigger fellows. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. as he read the huge scroll." Wyatt roared with laughter. Rather a good thing. "he is an old sportsman. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. I was one of the first to get it. then?" "Rather. It was a comprehensive document. It left out little. Buns were forgotten. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. "Bates must have got writer's cramp. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson. as they went back to the house. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval." "Do you think he's going to do something. the school sergeant. This bloated document was the extra lesson list." he said. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. He was quite fresh." it began." Wyatt was right. He lowers all records. The headmaster had acted. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. They surged round it.

it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. one of the places. it isn't you. by Jove! I forgot. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night."Well." "You don't think there's any chance of it. you're better off than I am. like everybody else. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No." * * * * * Billy Burgess. Any more? No. was a genial giant. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. especially as he's a bowler himself.C." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. I should think they'd give you a chance." "An extra's nothing much. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. Adams. really." "You needn't rot. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening. do you?" said Mike awkwardly. so you're all right." "Well. Burgess is simply mad on fielding." "I should be awfully sick. Ashe." said Mike. "All right. rather. So you field like a demon this afternoon. The present was one of the rare .C. "Or." said Wyatt seriously. Don't break down. "it's awfully decent of you." "I'm not breaking down. overcome. match. captain of Wrykyn cricket. if it were me. if his fielding was something extra special. You'll probably get my place in the team." "Oh. Wyatt." said Mike. Fielding especially. rather. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot. whatever his batting was like." "I say. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. buck up. That's next Wednesday. I don't blame him either." "I say. incidentally. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled." continued Wyatt. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. Anyhow. He had his day-dreams. Me. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me. Probably Druce." said Mike uncomfortably. I thought you weren't. Let's see. Still. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. But there'll be several vacancies. what rot!" "It is." said Mike indignantly. that's the lot. making a century in record time). who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. "I'm not rotting.

And I'd jump on the sack first. There it is in the corner. Besides. Then he returned to the attack. Bill. "I'm awfully sorry.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked.. and let's be friends. he isn't small. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute." "Rot. and a better field. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. in the excitement of the moment the M. Dropped a sitter off me to-day." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. I've dropped my stud." "Right ho!. Dash. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. Wyatt found him in his study. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man. That kid's good." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully." said Wyatt. That's your trouble. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. "He's as good a bat as his brother. For a hundred and three." "Why don't you play him against the M." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal. jumping at his opportunity. "Eight." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end.C." "You haven't got a mind. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply. "The fact is. I will say that for him.C. "Come on. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No." "Old Bob can't field for toffee." grumbled Burgess. like the soldier in Shakespeare.. and drop you into the river.C. full of strange oaths. I was on the spot. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. as Wyatt appeared. give me a kiss. He's as tall as I am. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack.C. match went clean out of my mind." "I suppose he is. shortly before lock-up. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when .

"You rotter. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. even Joe.C. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about." said Wyatt. CHAPTER XIII THE M. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. Wyatt.C. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. For. and you rave about top men in the second. He read it. MATCH If the day happens to be fine." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. it's a bit risky." Burgess hesitated. and his heart missed a beat. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. just above the W." said Wyatt. So long. Everything seems hushed and expectant. then. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. B. "I'll think it over. wouldn't you? Very well. I shall be locked out. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age." he said." said Burgess. poor kids. That kid's a genius at cricket. Give him a shot. how you 'discovered' M. The bell went ages ago.C. Frightful gift of the gab you've got. gassing to your grandchildren. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. at Lord's. bottom but one.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see.C. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. there is a curious. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent." Wyatt got up." he said. "Think it over. Jackson." "Good." Wyatt stopped for breath. "All right. "Just give him a trial. His own name." "You play him. "You know. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. chaps who play forward at everything. Burgess. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. Better stick to the men at the top of the second. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag. better .

saw him. to wait. when the strangeness has worn off. and stopped dead. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. He could almost have cried with pure fright. "Didn't I always say it. where he had changed. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home." said Saunders. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's." "Well." "Well. Hullo. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. He stopped short. I always said it." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. and I got one of the places. hopeless feeling left Mike." Joe took Mike by the shoulder. and quite suddenly.. the lost. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the .C. Master Joe. you know. here he is. Saunders?" "He is. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. "Why. Three chaps are in extra. I'm hanged! Young marvel. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out.after lunch. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. team came down the steps. Only wants the strength. isn't he. I'm only playing as a sub. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. so that they could walk over together. Mike walked across from Wain's." he chuckled. feeling quite hollow. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. Master Mike. and then they'll have to put you in." "Of course. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. Saunders!" cried Mike. "By Jove.C. you'll make a hundred to-day." he said. Master Mike. "Why. sir. as Saunders had done. "Isn't it ripping." said Saunders. sir. "Got all the strokes.

"I never saw such a family. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. You are only ten. And. "Aged ten last birthday. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. You wait till he gets at us to-day. . One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. As a captain. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. and hoping that nothing would come his way. just when things seemed most hopeless. The wicket was hard and true.C. "What do you think of this?" said Joe. for Joe. team. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. but Bob fumbled it. aren't you. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. not to mention the other first-class men. The M. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. For himself. At twenty. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. and the pair gradually settled down.C. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap.C." "I _have_ won the toss. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. exhibiting Mike." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. and was l. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. The beginning of the game was quiet. It was a moment too painful for words. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over." "This is our star. who grinned bashfully. tried to late-cut a rising ball. almost held it a second time. relief came. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. but he is. It was the easiest of slip-catches. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. still taking risks. The Authentic. but he contrived to chop it away.b. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. and playing for the school. Saunders is our only bowler. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. Bob. getting in front of his wicket. sorry as a captain. as usual.M. dropped it. missed it. Burgess was glad as a private individual.w." said the other with dignity. was feeling just the same. Joe began to open his shoulders. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. On the other hand. conscious of being an uncertain field.C.

all round the wicket. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. but wickets fell at intervals. Then Joe reached his century. Morris.C. and the M. Runs came with fair regularity. "Lobs. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. on the present occasion.The school revived. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. Both batsmen were completely at home. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch." he said to Berridge and Marsh. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. A comfortable. hit two boundaries. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. "Better have a go for them. third-change bowlers had been put on. "By Jove. was stumped half-way through the third.C.C. A hundred an hour is quick work. against Ripton. and was stumped next ball. Then came lunch. Burgess. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. the first-wicket man. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. I wish I was in. was a thoroughly sound bat. was optimistic. coming in last. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. the hundred and fifty at half-past. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. but exceedingly hard to shift. Berridge. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. the school first pair. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. however. the end was very near. Some years before. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. Four after four. a little on the slow side. total over the three hundred. and was then caught by Mike. Two hundred went up. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. His second hit had just lifted the M. It was a quarter to four when the innings began.C. After this. things settled down. invincible. Saunders. Unfortunately. The hundred went up at five o'clock. Joe was still in at one end. there was scarcely time." said Burgess. as usual. and two hundred and fifty. Following out this courageous advice. to make the runs. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed.

and Mike. all through gentle taps along the ground." said Burgess. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. insinuating things in the world. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. five wickets were down. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. "and it's ten past six. The long stand was followed. As a matter of fact.. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. . It was his turn next. No good trying for the runs now. At last he arrived. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. It was the same story to-day. In the second. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. The first over yielded six runs. He had refused to be tempted.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. The bowler smiled sadly. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. and hit the wicket. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. He wished he could stop them. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. fumbling at a glove. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary." All!. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. as usual. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. Bob. "That's all you've got to do." he added to Mike. He knew his teeth were chattering. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. Stick in. And that was the end of Marsh. Morris was still in at one end. three of them victims to the lobs. because they had earned it. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. Twenty runs were added. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. and Morris. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. he felt better. by a series of disasters. as if he hated to have to do these things. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. but they were distinctly envious. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. Bob Jackson went in next. Saunders. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. and get the thing over. Mike drew courage from his attitude. For a time things went well. Lobs are the most dangerous. and a thin. seemed to give Morris no trouble. At the wickets.. tottered out into the sunshine. He was jogging on steadily to his century. "Two hundred and twenty-nine.

bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. Mike grinned. sometimes a cut.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. but he himself must simply stay in. which he hit to the terrace bank. Burgess continued to hit. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. and bowled. he failed signally. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. "Play straight." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. "To leg. The moment had come. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. and invariably hit a boundary. . wryly but gratefully. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. moment Mike felt himself again. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball. it was Mike's first appearance for the school. and. He felt equal to the situation. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. If so. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. Burgess came in. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. "Don't be in a funk. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. and Saunders. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. besides being conscientious. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. On the other hand. just the right distance away from the off-stump.." said a voice. Saunders was a conscientious man. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again." said the umpire. Saunders was beginning his run. All nervousness had left him. and you can't get out. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. Half-past six chimed. It was a half-volley. skips and the jump... and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. Sometimes a drive. Now. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball. sir. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. but always a boundary. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. The bowling became a shade loose. the school was shouting. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. The next moment the dreams had come true. Mike would have liked to have run two. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. did not disturb him. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive." It was Joe. doubtless. Even the departure of Morris. There was only Reeves to follow him.

against the Gentlemen of the County. to Burgess after the match." said Burgess. here you are." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. at any rate as far . "He's not bad." said Wyatt. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. just failed to reach it. fast left-hand. and Mike got his place in the next match. It hummed over his head. jumping.The lob bowler had taken himself off. Four: beat him. so you may as well have the thing now. You won't get any higher. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. "You are a promising man.C. of the School House. at the last ball. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump." Mike was a certainty now for the second. almost at a venture. All was well. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. and mid-off. however gentlemanly. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails." said the wicket-keeper. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. Mike played it back to the bowler. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. who had played twice for the first eleven. "nothing. Unfortunately for him. They might mean anything from "Well.C. dropped down into the second. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. That meant. Down on it again in the old familiar way. Mike let it alone. Five: another yorker. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. * * * * * So Wilkins. and missed the wicket by an inch. "I told you so. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. this may not seem an excessive reward." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. and we have our eye on you. First one was given one's third eleven cap. as many a good man had done before him. Number two: yorker." But Burgess. Joe. as has been pointed out. But it was all that he expected. naturally. He hit out." Then came the second colours. "I'm sorry about your nose. match. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. the visiting team. were not brilliant cricketers. "I'll give him another shot.

"you played a very decent innings this afternoon. made a fuss. as head of the house. eh? Well. Morris making another placid century. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. For some ten minutes all was peace." he shouted. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. hit one in the direction of cover-point. and was thoroughly set. and. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. It happened in this way. making twenty-five. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. bursting with fury. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. Then Wain's opened their innings. and was then caught at cover. . not out. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. The following. who had the bowling. Bob. _verbatim_. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. See? That's all. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. when the Gazeka. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. The Gazeka. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. The school won the toss. Mike pounded it vigorously. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. and Marsh all passing the half-century. but Firby-Smith." he said." Mike departed. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. went in first. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. with Raikes. of the third eleven. having the most tender affection for his dignity. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. Raikes possessed few bowling was concerned. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. He had made seventeen. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. was captain of the side. prancing down the pitch. Run along. and he and Wyatt went in first. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. and Berridge. He was enjoying life amazingly. "Come on. match. did better in this match. mind you don't go getting swelled head. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. supported by some small change.C. House matches had begun. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. Ellerby. as the star. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. he waxed fat and kicked. to the detriment of Mike's character.C. this score did not show up excessively. "Well. Mike went in first wicket.

Firby-Smith did not grovel." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. cover having thrown the ball in. "I want to speak to you. and lick him. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. a man of simple speech. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. miss it. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. you know. was also head of the school. feeling now a little apprehensive. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused." he said. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. "Easy run there. These are solemn moments. And Mike. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. "What's up?" said Burgess." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. "You know young Jackson in our house." Burgess looked incredulous. "Rather a large order. At close of play he sought Burgess." he said reprovingly. a prefects' meeting. chewing the insult. besides being captain of the eleven. he was also sensitive on the subject. "Don't _laugh_. avoided him. Burgess. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. thought Firby-Smith. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. And only a prefects' meeting. "It isn't funny. Burgess. The world swam before Mike's eyes. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting.Mike." . The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. Firby-Smith arrived." he said. you grinning ape!" he cried. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. shouting "Run!" and.

I'll think it over. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. "Well.C. I mean--A prefects' meeting. but turned the laugh into a cough. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. Bob was one of his best friends. he's a decent kid. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. anyhow." said Firby-Smith. look here. In the second place. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. Here was he. Burgess started to laugh. as the nearest of kin. the results of the last few matches." And the matter was left temporarily at that. And here was another grievance against fate. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team.C."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. It became necessary. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. "Yes. well--Well. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. Bob occurred to him. with the air of one uttering an epigram." "Oh. Still. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. It was only fair that Bob should be told. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. and let you know to-morrow. In the first place. "Rather thick." "He's frightfully conceited. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. match. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. were strong this year at batting. Geddington. and particularly the M. therefore. Besides. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. but he thought the thing over. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. . And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. On the other hand. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world." he said meditatively.

Bob?" he asked. and Neville-Smith. "Silly young idiot. one's bound to support him. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. "Still." continued Burgess gloomily.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. but in fielding there was a great deal. Bob." suggested Burgess." he added. thanks. I want to see you. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. "Take a pew. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. can't you? This is me. The tall. "Still----" "I know." "It's awfully awkward. the man. Have some?" "No. So out Bob had gone. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. but he _is_ an ass. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk.' Billy. I say. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. you can. you know. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. took his place. Mike was good. "Sickening thing being run out. "Busy. the captain. Bob was bad. "Hullo. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith." said Bob. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. I sympathise with the kid. handsome chap. dark." . I suppose if the Gazeka insists. You know how to put a thing nicely. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. He came to me frothing with rage. look here." "I suppose so." he said. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. "Personally. sitting over here. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study." "Well. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. It's rather hard to see what to do.

he became all animation. You must play the the old Gazeka over. Bob. "Yes?" "Oh. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room." he said." said Bob. go and ask him to drop the business."Awful rot. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. He gets right way. apart from everything else. "I that sort." he said. Seeing Bob. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing." he said. I'm a prefect. too. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing." . you're not a bad sort. you know. you're a pal of his. One cannot help one's thoughts. You know. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. "Look here. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. I don't know. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. aren't you? Well. "You see it now. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. "Burgess was telling me. nothing--I mean. Look here." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects." emended the aggrieved party. "I thought you hadn't. "I say. But he recovered himself. having to sit there and look on. I know." It was a difficult moment for Bob. "I didn't think of you. "I wanted to see you. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. He had a great admiration for Bob. is there? I mean. "Don't do that. He wants kicking. you know. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith. I tell you what. "Well. made him waver. would it be. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. By now he'll have simmered down a bit." said Bob. though. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got." he said. not much of a catch for me.

He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. he." said Bob. Mike." "No. "I say. After all." "Thanks. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house. really. in the course of his address. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. of Donaldson's. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. He was not inclined to be critical. But for Bob. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn." and Bob waving them back. he gave him to understand. and Burton felt revengeful. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton." said Burton. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. and went to find Mike. he felt grateful to Bob. He was a punctured balloon. He wished he could find some way of repaying him. and owed him many grudges. and the offensively forgiving." said Mike. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. without interest. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. there's that." "Thanks. ." "Yes. though without success. it was frightful cheek. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. I think if I saw him and cursed him. of course. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. fourteen years of age. so subdued was his fighting spirit." "Of course it was. "I'm specially glad for one reason. Curiously enough. Reflection. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. most of all. I did run him out. and unburdened his soul to him." "What's that?" inquired Mike. And. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. Mike's all right."Well. Still. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. you know. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. All right then. Firby-Smith. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek.

and gradually made up his mind. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. They were _all_ beasts. yes. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. so that Burton. On the evening before the Geddington match." said Mike. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. as it were. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. He tapped with his right hand. in a day or two. weighing this remark. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. just before lock-up. rather. anyway."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. and his decision remained unaltered." "Hope so. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. We wanted your batting." "Thanks." And Burgess. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. Not once or twice. He kicked Burton." "Good-night. Be all right. Beastly bad luck. He'd have been playing but for you. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. I suppose?" "Oh." said Mike stolidly. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. Burgess. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. that's bad luck. He thought the thing over more fully during school. Good-night." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest.54 next morning. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him." "I say. for his left was in a sling. * * * * * Mike walked on. CHAPTER XVI . "Come in!" yelled the captain. though. too. retiring hurriedly. but several times. some taint.

" "H'm. thanks. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. "School playing anybody to-day." "Never mind." "They're playing Geddington. "It isn't anything. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit." "I could manage about that. at the request of Mike's mother. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. I think I should like to see the place first. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. really. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house. Uncle John. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. and. He had thereupon left the service. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer." "Why aren't you--Hullo." "Doctor seen it?" "No. But it's really nothing. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. I didn't see. Now. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. It's nothing much. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. His telegram arrived during morning school. . what shall we do. Only it's away. Mike? I want to see a match. and. Coming south. after an adventurous career.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth. Somebody ought to look at it. Be all right by Monday. mainly in Afghanistan." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect." "Hurt?" "Not much. There's a second match on. It doesn't matter a bit. Still." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. I'll have a look later on.

I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. By Jove. Then there'll be only the last place left. I see. I've got plenty of time. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting.Got to be done. "If he does well to-day. but I thought that was only as a substitute. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. as Trevor. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school." "Still. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. it was this Saturday. A sudden. But I wish I . if he does well against Geddington. and done well. "That's Trevor. No wonder you're feeling badly treated. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. but he choked the feeling down. and better do it as soon as possible. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. The thing was done." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school." said Mike. It was a glorious day. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. Mike. they'll probably keep him in. Neville-Smith. "Chap in Donaldson's. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. and they passed on to the cricket field. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. He's in the School House. They look as if they were getting set." "For the first? For the school! My word. by George!" remarked Uncle John. "Ah yes. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. Very nice." two or three times in an absent voice. it's Bob's last year. What bad luck. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. I should think. I was playing for the first. I didn't know that. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago." "Rather awkward." he said enviously. Of course. that. There are only three vacancies. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit." Uncle John detected the envious note." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded.

He could hear nothing but his own breathing. Which reminds me." "Not bad that. The telegram read. Mike?" "No. then gave it a little twist. "Ye--no. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. as he pulled up-stream with strong. sing out." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. Can you manage with one hand? Here." "Pull your left.could get in this year. Lunch." said Mike. "It's really nothing. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested." Uncle John looked over his shoulder. and sighed contentedly. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. "Let's just call at the shop. caught a crab." said Mike. and we'll put in there." stammered Mike." After they had watched the match for an hour." he began. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games. "That willow's what you want. . recovered himself. "Geddington 151 for four." said Mike. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air." "Rotten trick for a boy. Mike was crimson. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. I badly want a pipe. "That hurt?" he asked. let me--Done it? Good. "The worst of a school. They got up. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds. Let's have a look at the wrist. I wonder how Bob's got on. "I hope you don't smoke. unskilful stroke. "Put the rope over that stump. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. When you get to my age you need it. Uncle John looked up sharply." said Uncle John. but his uncle had already removed the sling. The next piece of shade that you see.

A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. and his uncle sat up. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. Lock-up's at half-past. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again." Uncle John was silent. "May as well tell me. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. That's how it was." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke. "Jove." When in doubt. It had struck him as neat and plausible."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. It wasn't that.) "Swear you won't tell him. swear you won't tell him. on. There was an exam. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence.. gaping. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday. "I know. dash it all then. I was nearly asleep. one may as well tell the truth. Only----" "Well?" "Oh." "I ought to be getting back soon. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. let his mind wander to Geddington. well. Look here." "I won't tell him. would they give him his cap? Supposing. I won't give you away. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. so I thought I might as well let him. Mike said nothing." . To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. really. where his fate was even now being sealed. while Mike.. Mike told it. (This.. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point. I think. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew.

and rejoined his uncle." Wyatt began to undress. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. only they wouldn't let me. I wanted to go to sleep." he said." said Mike. It was the only possible reply. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed. as they reached the school gates." "There'll be another telegram. Mike pushed his way through the crowd. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. I should think. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. better. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. . and they ragged the whole time. "By Jove." he added carelessly." Mike worked his way back through the throng. Don't fall overboard. Neville-Smith four). Jackson 48). "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. "Well?" said Uncle John. Marsh 58. I'm done. How's your wrist?" "Oh. "Bob made forty-eight. eh? We are not observed. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. "We won. then. "It was simply baking at Geddington. It was a longer message this time. thanks. Uncle John felt in his pocket."Up with the anchor. I'm going to shove her off. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night." He paused for a moment.

only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. Soothed by these memories. Bob puts them both on the floor." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours."No. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs." "Most captains would have done. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. Jenkins and Clephane. as he lay awake in his cubicle. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. Beastly man to bowl to. Their umpire." "Why. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. Ripping innings bar those two chances. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. And. A bit lucky. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. though. too. off Billy. No first. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. when he does give a couple of easy chances. to-day. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. reviewing the match that night. he fell asleep." Burgess. Chap had a go at it. Bit of luck for Bob. He was very fond of Bob. If he dwelt on it. Just lost them the match. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. Only one or two thirds. With great guile he had fed this late cut. and another chap. with watercress round it. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. I was in at the other end. He let their best man off twice in one over. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. he felt. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. Never saw a clearer case in my life. can't remember who. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . had come to much the same conclusion. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. he would get insomnia.

" "All right then. About your fielding. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. Bob.chance of reforming." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. I shall miss it. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. accordingly. he played for the second. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. but I mean." "Well. Trevor'll hit me up catches. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. found his self-confidence returning slowly. Bob figured on the boundary. I know that if a catch does come. I could get time to watch them there. It's simply awful. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. and hoped for the day. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. As for Mike. drop by drop. I'm frightfully sorry. as he stood regarding the game from afar. This did not affect the bulk of the school. * * * * * In the next two matches. "Look here. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. "It's those beastly slip catches. I believe I should do better in the deep. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. Try it. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel." "Do you know. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. of Seymour's. I hate the slips. I can't time them." "I know. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street." The conversation turned to less pressing topics." Bob was all remorse. I'm certain the deep would be much better. Both of them were. Bob. I'll practise like mad. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler.

Where were his drives now. what was more important. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. would be Shoeblossom. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. and at the bottom of the heap. and in the dingy back shop. He tried out of doors. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. Essentially a man of moods. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. disappeared from Society. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. the school doctor. and returned to the school. however necessary such an action might seem to him. G. Two days later Barry felt queer. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. On the Tuesday afternoon. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. of the first eleven. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. where he read _Punch_. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . Shoeblossom came away. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. sucked oranges. He tried the junior day-room. who was top of the school averages. The professional advice of Dr. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. at the same moment. he was attending J. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. and. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. and also. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it.Quiet Student. too. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. but people threw cushions at him. Upstairs. He had occasional headaches. entering the High Street furtively. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. peace. for chicken-pox. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. The next victim was Marsh. was called for. In brief. Marsh. Shoeblossom. and thought of Life. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. He. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. the son of the house. squealing louder than any two others. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. Oakes. He made his way there. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption.

they failed miserably. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. and I'm alone. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. Have to look after my digestion. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. The total was a hundred and seven. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. All sorts of luxuries. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. for rain fell early in the morning. when Wain's won the footer cup. Bob. But on this particular day. batting when the wicket was easier. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. going in fourth wicket. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. bar the servants. and the Incogniti. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. The weather may have had something to do with it. And I can square them. Too old now. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. three years ago. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. and Mike kept his end up. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. I remember. made a dozen. His food ran out. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. They had only been beaten once. and after that the rout began. doubled this. I've got the taste in my mouth still. did anything to distinguish himself. and the school. Got through a slice. and was not out eleven. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. "Well. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped.elect. for no apparent reason. but nobody except Wyatt. too. batting first on the drying wicket. Some schools do it in nearly every match." . for Neville-Smith. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. and ate that.

" "Bit better. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when. Why? What about?" . of course. "because it is. Bob. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No." "You were all right. passed him the bread. making desultory conversation the while. Not that it matters much really whether I do now." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. "Not seen much of each other lately. yes. I can't say more than that. being older. When he had finished. though." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter. Mike. one wants the best man. he would just do it. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. Pity to spoil the record. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's. He got tea ready. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly." continued Bob. was more at his ease." "You get on much better in the deep. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. But young Mike's all over him as a bat. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this. and sat down. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. Beastly awkward." Mike stared." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period." "Oh. Still. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. I don't know. We've all been at Wrykyn. of course. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam. He's bound to get in next year. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. he poured Mike out a cup.

And so home. just now. '_I_ think M. 'It's rough on Bob. 'That's just what I think. but don't feel bound to act on it. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle. Spence said. and now he had achieved it. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. He was sorry for Bob. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration."Well. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room.' he said. Congratulate you. They shook hands. I'm simply saying what I think. I heard every word. Billy said. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything." Mike looked at the floor. 'Well. I fancy you've won. Bob. "Well.' said old Bill.'s like a sounding-board. 'Decidedly M. Well. and so on. I waited a bit to give them a good start." resumed Bob. 'I don't know what to do. sir?' Spence said." muttered Mike. Burgess. So Mike edged out of the room. and then sheered off myself. and that's what he's there for. They thought the place was empty. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. but. There was nothing much to _be_ said. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. I couldn't help hearing what they said. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. . I'll give you my opinion. What do you think. what I wanted to see you about was this. when you congratulated a man on getting colours.' 'Yes. rot. It's the fortune of war." It was the custom at Wrykyn. of course. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. and in a year or two. don't let's go to the other extreme." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. "Thanks. wiping the sweat off his forehead.'" "Oh. I'm jolly glad it's you. he's cricket-master. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. on the other hand. Billy agreed with him. 'Well. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. awfully. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. The pav. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. As it isn't me. "Not at all.. now.' said Spence. to shake his hand. He's a shade better than R. sir. sir. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. in the First room. After all. and I picked it up and started reading it. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. and tore across to Wain's. and said nothing. I was in the pav. of course. It had been his one ambition. there'll be no comparison." said Mike. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece.

orders were orders. was not. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board. he found that it was five minutes past six. This was to the good.30 to-morrow morning. . a prospect that appealed to him. He took his quarter of an hour. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. It would have to be done. therefore. As he passed it. and a little more. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. And Wyatt was at Bisley. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. Reaching out a hand for his watch. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye." said Mike. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. Until he returned. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. It wouldn't do. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. as it always does. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer.--W. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. and this silent alarm proved effective. F. Still. he felt. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. dash it. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets.-S." "Oh. even on a summer morning. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. Mike could tell nobody.

Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point." he said. Now he began to waver. One simply lies there. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. But not a chap who. and jolly quick. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. Didn't you see the notice?" . Firby-Smith straightened his tie. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. yes. inconvenienced--in short. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. and glared. in coming to his den. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. he felt. Was this right. being ordered about. Make the rest of the team fag about. One would have felt. looking at him. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. he said to himself. But logic is of no use. It was time. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. One knows that delay means inconvenience. Mike thought he would take another minute. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. and waited. "Young Jackson. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. Who _was_ he. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. he asked himself. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. that Mike. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. I want to know what it all means. And outside in the cricket-field. "look here. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. The painful interview took place after breakfast. by the way. Here was he. dash it all. would be bad enough. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down.

and I've seen it coming on. That's got nothing to do with it.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. just listen to me. He mentioned this. "Six!" "Five past. Just because you've got your second. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself." said Mike. young man. You think the place belongs to you. The rather large grain of truth in what . I've had my eye on you for some time. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first." said Mike indignantly. you think you can do what you like. "Yes." said the Gazeka shrilly." "I don't. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. That's what you've got. you went to sleep again. See?" Mike said nothing. "Then you frightful kid. Awfully embarrassing. The point is that you're one of the house team. and I'm captain of it. as you please. Frightful swelled head. did you? Well. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. but he rather fancied not. Happy thought: over-slept himself. You've got swelled head." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. this. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you." "Oh. turn up or not. "Do--you--see. you do. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. It was not according to his complicated.

The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. Mike's jaw set more tightly. "Do you see?" he asked again. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. for a beaker full of the warm south. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. Well. He set his teeth. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. What one really wants here is a row of stars. I'll go down and look. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. but cheerful. A-ah!" He put down the glass. Wyatt was worn out. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. full of the true. and stared at a photograph on the wall. "Oh. I didn't hit the bull every time.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. water will do. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. "What's your trouble?" he asked. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. and I suppose it always will be. and his feelings were hurt. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. Wyatt came back. Very heady. as he had nearly done once before. Always at it." . young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. and surveyed Mike. "That's the cats. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar." He left the dormitory. Failing that. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. Zam-buk's what you want. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. If it's a broken heart. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner." he said.

a word in your ear. There are some things you simply can't do. you stick it on. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. I don't know." "I like you jawing about discipline. You stick on side. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding. blood as you are at cricket. I defy any one to. you'll have a rotten time here." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . did he buttonhole you on your way to school. 'Talking of side. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. 'Jackson." "No.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. It's too early in the morning. you've got to obey him. The speaker then paused. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. but." said Mike morosely." "I didn't turn up." he said." "What! Why?" "Oh. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. Otherwise. Cheers from the audience. putting down the jug. "I say. that 'ere is." "In passing. "And why.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. "Nothing like this old '87 water." "Why?" "I don't know. look here. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. He winked in a friendly way. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. That's discipline. and. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. and say."He said I stuck on side. really. silent natures. drew a deep breath. If he's captain. my gentle che-ild. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep." "I mean. while I get dropped on if I break out. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong. "Such body. and. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it.

I thank you." Mike made no reply. but each played each. His feelings were curiously mixed. Dulwich. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. Paul's are a third. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. Eton. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. Harrow. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. or Wrykyn. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. Haileybury. really meant. Wrykyn.saying--just so. young Jackson. That was the match with Ripton. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. the other you mustn't ever break. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. and St. In this way. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. but it generally did. would go down before Wilborough. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. There was no actual championship competition. He would have perished rather than admit it. Geddington. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. but it isn't done. Tonbridge. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. Ripton. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. If Wyatt. "me. But this did not happen often. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. I don't know why. of which so much is talked and written. and Wilborough formed a group." he concluded modestly. About my breaking out. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. Until you learn that. if possible. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. having beaten Ripton. or. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. as far as games are concerned. rather. for the first time in his life. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. When you're a white-haired old man like me. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. most forms of law and order. That night. . Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. before the Ripton match. cheerful disregard of.

In case of accident. One gave him no trouble. "Well held. Finally he had consulted Mr. There were two vacancies. there was a week before the match. he postponed the thing. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. He could write it after tea. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. and kep' in a sepyrit jug." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. he would have kept Bob In. "Pleasure is pleasure. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. and he had done well in the earlier matches. Spence. and he hated to have to do it. Spence had voted for Mike. The more he thought of it. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. Bob got to it with one hand. If he could have pleased himself. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. engrossed in his book. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. * * * * * When school was over. The report was more than favourable. and Mr.Burgess. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. . and biz is biz. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. From small causes great events do spring. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. and held it." "Banzai!" said Burgess. And then there was only time to gather up his cap." said Burgess. He had fairly earned his place. It was a difficult catch. as the poet has it. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. As it was. And. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession. and sprint. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. With him at short slip. But. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. After all. feeling that life was good. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. accordingly. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. but he was steady. the sorrier he was for him.

" said the Gazeka. Burgess passed on. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. of course. He'll be able to play on Saturday." he explained." "Easy when you're only practising. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. and all the time the team was filled up. and so he proceeded to tell . He suppressed his personal feelings. There are many kinds of walk." said Bob awkwardly." "Oh. It was the cricket captain who. "What's up?" inquired Burgess. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again. Firby-Smith. "You're hot stuff in the deep. "This way for Iron Wills." "I've just been to the Infirmary. "I couldn't get both hands to it. his mind full of Bob once more. but one has one's personal ambitions. towards the end of the evening. did not enter his mind. as who should say. What hard luck it was! There was he." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. He was glad for the sake of the school. on being told of Mike's slackness. nothing. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast." "Good. "Young Jackson. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house. in fact. That Burgess would feel. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him." said Bob. but it's all right. do you mean? Oh." There was. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. It was decidedly a blow. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. and became the cricket captain again. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. it may be mentioned."Hullo. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal.

The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. Trevor came out of the block. There was no possibility of mistake. * * * * * When. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list. Since writing was invented. He felt physically sick with the shock of the in detail. that looked less like an M. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. "Hard luck!" said somebody. going out. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. As he stared. met Bob coming in. Bob. and passed on." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . as he was rather late. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. "Congratulate you. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. therefore." he said. Bob. there had never been an R. "Congratulate you. Bob had beaten him on the tape. He looked at the paper. Bob stared after him. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. than the one on that list. Mike scarcely heard him. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. hurrying. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike.

" he said awkwardly. came down the steps. Bob snatched gladly at the subject. feeling very ill. Bob. as the post was late. They moved slowly through the cloisters. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. "Congratulate you. Not much in it. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike." "Hope so. if you want to read it. There was a short silence. very long way off. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. I showed you the last one. This was no place for him." "My--what? you're rotting. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. delicately." said Mike. "Anyhow. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's." . "Thanks awfully. Just then. Here it is." "Thanks." said Bob."Seen what?" "Why the list. I'm not. You've got your first. Go and look. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears. Mike. No reason why he shouldn't. "Jolly glad you've got it. You're a cert." "No. It'll be something to do during Math. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. "Got a letter from mother this morning. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation. When one has missed one's colours." said Mike. "I believe there's a mistake. you'll have three years in the first. it's jolly rummy. Trevor moved on." "Well. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school." The thing seemed incredible. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. and Burgess agree with him. neither speaking. next year seems a very. for next year. with equal awkwardness.

Mike was. with some surprise. Mike heard the words "English Essay." he said." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. and Mike noticed. and which in time disappears altogether. "Got that letter?" "Yes. as it were. "Read that. but it was lessened. it's for me all right. sitting up and taking nourishment." "Why not here?" "Come on. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. there appeared on his face a worried."Marjory wrote. A brief spell of agony." Mike resented the tone. pushed his way towards him through the crowd." said Mike amiably." and. seeing Mike. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. He looked round. As they went out on the gravel. "Hullo. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. The disappointment was still there. He seemed to have something on his mind. seeing that the conversation was . When they had left the crowd behind. These things are like kicks on the shin. Bob appeared curiously agitated. and. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. but followed. and went up to the headmaster. too. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. even an irritated look. he stopped. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. I'll give it you in the interval. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. somebody congratulated Bob again. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. I'll show it you outside. for the first time in her life. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. "What's up?" asked Mike." "After you. that." "No. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. Haven't had time to look at it yet.

and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent.apparently going to be one of some length. I told her it served her right. Why don't you do that? "M. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). Bob had had cause to look worried. "P." There followed a P. I am quite well.S.S. lead up to it. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. it .' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. and ceased to wonder. and display it to the best advantage.-"I hope you are quite well. She was a breezy correspondent. Have you got your first? If you have. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. Well. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. Reggie made a duck.--This has been a frightful fag to write. under the desk. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. Phyllis has a cold. He put the missive in his pocket.P. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. capped the headmaster and walked off. She was jolly sick about it. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. it will be all through Mike. with a style of her own. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. and it's _the_ match of the season. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. He read it during school. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. but usually she entertained rather than upset people.

" he said at last. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. is it all rot. and would insist on having a look at my arm. So it came out. "Did you read it?" "Yes. and Burgess was not likely to alter it. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. Besides. Bob couldn't do much. it was beastly awkward. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. Marjory meant well.." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way. Still." . "How do you mean?" said Mike. He came down when you were away at Geddington.. The team was filled up." he broke off hotly. "Of course. I couldn't choke him off." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. You know. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things." Bob stared gloomily at his toes.. "I did." said Mike." "I didn't think you'd ever know. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. "I mean. "Well?" said Bob. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. "I know I ought to be grateful. but she had put her foot right in it. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. I suppose I am. he might at least have whispered them. that's how it was. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter." "Well. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all. If he was going to let out things like that. They met at the nets. I don't know. and all that.

simply to think no more about them. it's all over now. "Besides. "Well." "I'm hanged if it is." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak." Which he did. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. The sensible man realises this. and had a not unpleasant time." added Mike. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. "I shall get in next year all right. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home." said Bob to himself. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. who sat down on an acorn one day. Others try to grapple with them. I decide to remain here. ." "Oh. "I must see Burgess about it. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. This is Philosophy. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. he altered his plans. He looked helplessly at Mike. "Anyhow. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. finding this impossible. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances." Mike said. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. when he awoke. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. anyhow. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. and it grew so rapidly that."I don't remember. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. but." he said. well. "Well. He thought he would go home. Or. When affairs get into a real tangle. but it never does any good. sixty feet from the ground. if one does not do that." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. and happened to doze." He sidled off. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. and slides out of such situations. Half a second. admitting himself beaten. but the air was splendid and the view excellent." "What about it?" "Well.

might find some way of making things right for everybody. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. if they are to be done at school. Very sporting of your brother and all that. "But I must do something. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. but why should you do anything? You're all right. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. Bob should have done so. what you say doesn't help us out much. in it. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. Though. and took the line of least resistance." Bob agreed.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. I don't know if it's occurred to you. I could easily fake up some excuse. of course. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. You simply keep on saying you're all right. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. These things. if possible. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. Tell you what. seeing that the point is." "I do. "Still. though. And Burgess. "I suppose you can't very well. like the man in the oak-tree. It's me. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. It's not your fault. now it's up. consulted on the point. in council. At which period he remarked a rum business. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one." said Bob. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. after Mike's fashion. confessed to the same to solve the problem. have to be carried through stealthily. at the moment. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. Besides. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. Imitate this man." . but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. It would not be in the picture. and here you _are_.

You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. "Thanks. He's a young slacker. If you really want to know. As the distance between them lessened. that's why you've got your first instead of him." "He isn't so keen. all right.." said Burgess. expansive grin." said Neville-Smith. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it." "Well. whatever happens. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. So you see how it is. as the Greek exercise books say. but a slack field wants skinning. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. Not that you did. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time." "Anyhow. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. and then the top of your head'll come off." "Oh." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. but supposing you had." "Mind the step. if you don't look out. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. with a brilliant display of front teeth. thanks for reminding me. So long. Wyatt. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. if that's any good to you. so out he went. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that." "I'll tell you what you look like. A bad field's bad enough." "I don't care. You sweated away. I've got my first." said Bob. At any rate. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. That slight smile of yours will meet behind. he did tell me. I feel like--I don't know what."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board.

" "Said it wasn't good enough. anyhow it's to-night. You can roll up. for goodness sake. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep." As Wyatt was turning away. Still. nor iron bars a cage. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me. and I'll come down." "No." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people." "The school is going to the dogs." "Yes. I'll try to do as little damage as possible. which I have--well. can't you?" "Delighted. Anything for a free feed in these hard times." "They ought to allow you a latch-key. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. I expect." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. eleven'll do me all right. It's just above the porch. After all. They all funked it. a sudden compunction seized upon . now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. All the servants'll have gone to bed." "Good man." "So will the glass--with a run. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. I needn't throw a brick." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way. Heave a pebble at it. if I did. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. Make it a bit earlier. I get on very well.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do. if you like." "The race is have at home in honour of my getting my first. It'll be the only one lighted up. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. Clephane is. for one. We shall have rather a rag. I'm going to get the things now." "But one or two day-boys are coming. And Beverley." "You _will_ turn up. I shall manage it. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. Still. You'll see the window of my room.

No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place." said Wyatt. No expense has been spared. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached. I've used all mine." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. If so. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. you always are breaking out at night. and the wall by the . merriest day of all the glad New Year. though. "but this is the maddest. Still. do you? I mean." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. "Don't you worry about me. we must make the best of things." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. He called him back.Neville-Smith. All you have to do is to open the window and step out. getting back. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence." "Oh. but he did not state his view of the case." "Don't go getting caught. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night." "I shall do my little best not to be. Ginger-beer will flow like water. I've got to climb two garden walls. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. They've no thought for people's convenience here. that's all right. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. "What's up?" he asked. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. you don't think it's too risky. APPLEBY "You may not know it." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. "I say. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR. Rather tricky work. I don't know if he keeps a dog. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row.

and was in the lane within a minute. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. At present there remained much to be done. for instance. ran lightly across it. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. They were all dark. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. There was a full moon. Appleby. Appleby. Crossing this. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. whatever you did to it. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. the master who had the house next to Mr. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. and let himself out of the back door. There he paused. Much better have flowers. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. and get a decent show for one's money in . He was in plenty of time. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. dusted his trousers. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. sniffing as he walked. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. The window of his study was open. From here he could see the long garden. "What a night!" he said to himself. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. which had suffered on the two walls. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. but the room had got hot and stuffy. Wain's. it is true. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. true. This was the route which he took to-night. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. Then he decided on the latter. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. He was fond of his garden.potting-shed was a feline club-house. It was a glorious July night. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. he climbed another wall. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. Why not.

He paused. Appleby that first awoke to action. Appleby had left his chair. and remember that he is in a position of trust. As far as he could see. He always played the game. With a sigh of relief Mr. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. close his eyes or look the other way. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. As he dropped into the lane. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. Sentiment. of course. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. He receives a salary for doing this duty. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. on hands and knees. but he may use his discretion. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. wondering how he should act. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. It was not an easy question. He went his way openly. and indirectly. however. bade him forget the episode. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. It was on another plane. He knew that there were times when a master might. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. Mr. the extent of the damage done. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. without blame. The surprise. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. with the aid of the moonlight. it was not serious. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. to the parents. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. and rose to his feet. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. Appleby. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. through the headmaster.summer at any rate. Appleby. Breaking out at night. treat it as if it had never happened. was a different thing altogether. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. examining. he had recognised him. and. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. he would have done so. . It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. liked and respected by boys and masters.

About Wyatt. Appleby." said Mr. Wain?" he said. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. Wain. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. but they would have to wait." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. The thing still rankled. He tapped on the window. The blind shot up. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval." Mr. and walked round to Wain's. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. He turned down his lamp. like a sea-beast among rocks. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table." "Sorry. Mr. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. "I'll smoke. ." began Mr. and squeezed through into the room. "Can I have a word with you. Appleby. I'll climb in through here. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. shall I? No need to unlock the door. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. Exceedingly so. Wain. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. Mr. I'm afraid." And. greatly to Mr. Mr. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border. only it's something important. He could not let the matter rest where it was. in the middle of which stood Mr. if you don't mind.This was the conclusion to which Mr. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room.

You are quite right. and have it out with him. You're the parent."James! In your garden! Impossible. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster. It's like daylight out of doors." "Bars can be removed. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory." "You astound me. He would have no choice." "I will. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. Appleby. and. "I ought to report it to the headmaster. I am astonished." "No. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence. That is certainly the course I should pursue." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred." "There is certainly something in what you say. sit down. He hoped . Dear me. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. He was wondering what would happen. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled." Mr. Exceedingly so. That is a very good idea of yours. Appleby offered no suggestion. Why. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. Good-night. then." "Possibly." said Mr. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here." "You must have been mistaken. Appleby. Appleby. Wain on reflection. "A good deal. "What shall I do?" Mr. You can deal with the thing directly." Mr." "I don't see why. Appleby. a little nettled. Got a pile of examination papers to look over. It isn't like an ordinary case." "Good-night. "Let's leave it at that. Yes. If you come to think of it. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster." "He's not there now. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. Tackle the boy when he comes in. He had taken the only possible course. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. You are not going?" "Must. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all." said Mr. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. Sorry to have disturbed you." "So was I. this is most extraordinary.

.. Appleby had been right. But the other bed was empty. and nothing else. pondering over the news he had heard.. If he had gone out. the life of an assistant master at a public school. as a complete nuisance. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. Mike was there. If further proof had been needed. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. Wyatt he had regarded. Mr. . Mr. therefore. it was true. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. and the night was warm. He blew the candle out. and walked quietly upstairs. The moon shone in through the empty space. by silent but mutual agreement. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. He liked Wyatt. He had been working hard. he would hardly have returned yet. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up.they would not. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. a sorrowful. one of the bars was missing from the window. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. Mr. It was not all roses. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. and waited there in the semi-darkness. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. was the last straw.. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. It would be a thousand pities. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. Lately. and then consider the episode closed. he reflected wrathfully. It was not. broken by various small encounters. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. so much as an exasperated.. This breaking-out. asleep. thinking. if he were to be expelled. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. he felt. He grunted. The light of the candle fell on both beds. He took a candle. least of all in those many years younger than himself..

Then he seemed to recover himself. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. Wain. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. as the house-master shifted his position. "Hullo!" said Mike. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room." snapped the house-master. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. The time had come to put an end to it. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. and the letter should go by the first post next day. asking them to receive his step-son at once. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. father!" he said pleasantly. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. Wain relit his candle. "Go to sleep. is that you. Mr. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. At that moment Mr. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. Mike saw him start.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. "Hullo. But he should leave. Wyatt dusted his knees. His voice sounded ominously hollow. Jackson. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. and rubbed his hands together. . His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. There was literally no way out. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. and that immediately. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. He lay down again without a word. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. "James!" said Mr. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. Wyatt should not be expelled. immediately. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. but could hear nothing.

" "What'll he do. sir. About an hour. The swift and sudden boot. "It's all right. "You have been out. sir. I suppose. what!" "But. "That reminds me. He flung himself down on his bed. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up." said Wyatt at last. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. really. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly. Wain spoke." "I got a bit of a start myself. To Mike." "Yes. "But. Then Mr. Suppose I'd better go down. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot." said Wyatt. Wyatt!" said Mike. do you think?" "Ah. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. now. "Yes. Exceedingly astonished. speaking with difficulty. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. Speaking at a venture. my little Hyacinth.' We . Mike began to get alarmed. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. it's awful. "I say." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck." said Wyatt. I shall be sorry to part with you. Me sweating to get in quietly. "I shall talk to you in my study. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. "I am astonished. rolling with laughter. I say. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. it seemed a long silence. holding his breath. I say. lying in bed." He left the room. Follow me there.

" "What were you doing out of your dormitory." Mr. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. Wain jumped nervously." "And. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter." * * * * * In the study Mr. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. Wain took up a pen." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. sir. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_. "Exceedingly." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. Well." "The fact is----" said Wyatt. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. "It slipped. "Well. sir. Don't go to sleep. Wyatt sat down. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. I follow." "What?" "Yes. Mr. This is my Moscow. I suppose I'd better go down. James. and began to tap the table. choking sob.shall meet at Philippi. "Sit down. at that hour?" "I went for a walk." he said. "Only my slipper." explained Wyatt. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes." "Not likely. then. out of the house. sir." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . may I inquire. That'll be me. minions. sir. "Well?" "I haven't one. Where are me slippers? Ha. James?" Wyatt said nothing. 'tis well! Lead on.

" said Wyatt laconically. In a minute or two he would be asleep. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. "It is expulsion. father." "I need hardly say. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No. sir. Exceedingly so." said Wyatt. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. ." Wyatt nodded. even were I disposed to do so. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. they only gain an extra fortnight of me." Mr." "Of course. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. You will not go to school to-morrow." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. It is not fitting. and resumed the thread of his discourse." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. to see this attitude in you." "You will leave directly I receive his letter.motor-car. It is impossible for me to overlook it. James. exceedingly. Tap like that. Do you understand? That is all. "I am sorry. ignoring the interruption. watching it. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected. It's sending me to sleep." continued Mr. Wain. "As you know. "I wish you wouldn't do that. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. but this is a far more serious matter. At once. Wain suspended tapping operations. You must leave the school. James. I mean. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. Wyatt. Only it _was_ sending me off. approvingly.

here you are. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. yes. he's got to leave." Burgess's first thought." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least." said Wyatt cheerfully. was in great request as an informant. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly. "Oh. and began to undress." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. but it failed to comfort him. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight."No. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. . I shoot off almost immediately. "What happened?" "We chatted. father. Wain were public property. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon." he said. was for his team." "What? When?" "He's left already. He isn't coming to school again. or some rot. as an actual spectator of the drama. Mike. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda. "Anybody seen young--oh. all amongst the ink and ledgers. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy." Mike was miserably silent. Burgess came up. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. as befitted a good cricket captain. "Buck up.

You know. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. There was." continued Burgess. anyway. last night after Neville-Smith's. Bob was the next to interview him. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. though!" he added after a pause. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. Hope he does." agreed Mike." "I should like to say good-bye. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . Mike!" said Bob. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. however." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. young Jackson. without enthusiasm. that's the part he bars most." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms." "All right. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. his pal. I expect. and he's taken him away from the school. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. "All the same. one exception to the general rule. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon." said Mike. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. They met in the cloisters. you see. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. Look here. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. Wyatt was his best friend. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess. Not unless he comes to the dorm." "He'll find it rather a change. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. You'll play on Saturday. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. during the night. As a matter of fact. "I say. "Hullo. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. withdrawn. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising.

They walked on without further Wain's gate. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. by the way. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. "It was absolutely my fault. with a forced and grisly calm. as far as I can see. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded." "Neville-Smith! Why." "Oh. Well." said Burgess. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news. way.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out." . where Mike left him. plunged in meditation. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. "It was all my fault. That's all. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. this wouldn't have happened. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. Jackson. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. I don't know. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. "If it hadn't been for me. "I say. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven." he said at length. Only our first. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. Bob. In extra on Saturday. "Only that. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. "Nothing much. "What's up?" asked Bob." said Mike. so he waited for him at half-past twelve.

as most other boys of his age would have been. Stronger than the one we drew with. I've thought of something. "I say. They whacked the M. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. the Argentine Republic. for lack of anything better to say. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt. did he?" Mike." "By Jove. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. well.C." Burgess grunted." said Bob. Like Mr. He must be able to work it. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers.C. Bob went on his way to the nets. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. Wain's dressing-room. he had a partner. As a matter of fact. where countless sheep lived and had their being. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. Jolly hot team of M." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. "Very. Spenlow. If it comes off. presumably on business. I may hold a catch for a change. I'll write to father to-night. glad to be there again. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. three years ago. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. to start with.C."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. "I wanted to see you. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. It's about Wyatt. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. he'd jump at anything." "By Jove. He never chucked the show altogether.C. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. that's to say. And he can ride. made. I should think. from all accounts. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. Mike." "Oh. or was being. I know. Mike was just putting on his pads. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. too. So Mr. and once. who believed in taking no chances. . All these things seemed to show that Mr." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank. his father had gone over there for a visit. He's a jolly good shot.

. In any case he would buy him a lunch. but to the point. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability." "H'm . sir.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. These letters he would then stamp. Wyatt's letter was longer. Mr." "H'm . Wyatt?" "Yes. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger. Racquets?" "Yes." "H'm ." His advent had apparently caused little sensation." "Play football?" "Yes.." "Cricketer?" "Yes.." After which a Mr. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast. there was no reason why something should not be done for him. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank. by a Beginner. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs.. Sportsman?" "Yes. you won't get any more of it now.. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer. which had run as follows: "Mr.. sir. sir. Well. sir. sir. and subsequently take in bundles to the . He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. Jackson's letter was short. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match. He said that he hoped something could be managed." "Everything?" "Yes. sir. but that.

' which is a sort of start. "I should win the toss to-day. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. Wyatt. 'Hints for Young Criminals. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. match. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. was not slow to recognise this fact. and go in first. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. There were twelve colours given three years ago. The Ripton match was a special event. It had stopped late at night. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. Even twenty. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance." said Mr.C. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the office. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. Spence. to be among the ruck. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. Honours were heaped upon him." wrote Wyatt. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. as a member of the staff. Still. would be as useless as not playing at all. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius. inspecting the wicket with Mr. this.C. if it got the school out of a tight place. if the sun comes out. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. Burgess. Spence. It would just suit him." said Burgess. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. if I were you.' So long. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. when the match was timed to begin. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. sir. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. "Just what I was thinking. "Or even Wyatt. Burgess. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. At eleven-thirty. I suppose. Burgess?" . "I should cook the accounts. It was a day on which to win the toss. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. by J. Mind you make a century. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. But it doesn't seem in my line. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now." Mr. "Who will go on first with you." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. To do only averagely well. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be.

I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads." "Tails it is. On a dry. "but I think we'll toss. It's a hobby of mine. "Certainly. He's a pretty useful chap all round. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this." said Burgess ruefully. This end. win the toss. And. "One consolation is." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. You call. above all. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip." "I should. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed." said Burgess. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long. though. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine." said Burgess. Plays racquets for them too. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket." said Maclaine. The other's yours. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. I think." "Oh. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. Ellerby." "I must win the toss. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. I must tell the fellows to look out for it. that's a . He wasn't in the team last year. about our batting. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling. "It's a nuisance too." "You'll put us in. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. He was crocked when they came here. it might have been all right." "Well. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now."Who do you think. I believe. "We'll go in first." "Heads. I don't know of him. Mac. of the Bosanquet type. I suppose?" "Yes--after us. They had been at the same private school. were old acquaintances. Looks as if it were going away. well. the Ripton captain. I've lost the toss five times running. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow. so I was bound to win to-day." "I don't think a lot of that." "I know the chap. and comes in instead. A boy called de Freece.

So Ripton went in to hit. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. They plodded on." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. Another hour of play remained before lunch. and was certain to get worse.comfort. as it generally does. Dashing tactics were laid aside. and let's get at you. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. They meant to force the game. Burgess. he was compelled to tread cautiously. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. The pitch had begun to play tricks. and Bob. Then . and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. Twenty came in ten minutes. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. Buck up and send some one in. At sixty Ellerby. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. run out. Maclaine. seventy-four for three wickets. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. as he would want the field paved with it. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. but the score. The score mounted rapidly. held it. The change worked. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. gave place to Grant. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. as it did on this occasion. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. Burgess began to look happier. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. The policy proved successful for a time. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. as also happened now. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. The sun. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. but it means that wickets will fall. but which did not always break. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. which was now shining brightly.

If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. Just a ball or two to the last man. and with it the luncheon interval. and his one hit. The last man had just gone to the wickets. That period which is always so dangerous. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. but he had also a very accurate eye. a semicircular stroke. His record score. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. found his leg-stump knocked back. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. and de Freece. when a quarter to two arrived. He bowled a straight. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. He had made twenty-eight. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch.Ellerby. when the wicket is bad. swiping at it with a bright smile. came off with distressing frequency. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. when Ellerby. it was not a yorker. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. A four and a three to de Freece. it was not straight. medium-paced yorker. did what Burgess had failed to do. he explained to Mike. the ten minutes before lunch. and it will be their turn to bat. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. missed his second. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. they resent it. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. the slow bowler. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. for the last ten minutes. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. as they walked . The other batsman played out the over. So far it was anybody's game. And when he bowled a straight ball. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. Every run was invaluable now. who had gone on again instead of Grant. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off.

* * * * * With the ground in its usual true. "That chap'll have Berry. You must look out for that. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. First ball. would be anything record-breaking.-w. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. "L. "Thought the thing was going to break. Morris was the tenth case. On a bad wicket--well." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. and not your legs. "It's that googly man. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. . But ordinary standards would not apply here. and make for the pavilion. "Morris is out. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. The tragedy started with the very first ball. when done. hard condition. It would have been a gentle canter for them. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand. rather than confidence that their best." said Burgess helpfully. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. if he doesn't look out. but it didn't. Hullo." he said. But Berridge survived the ordeal. He thought it was all right. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. he said. Berridge. For goodness sake. Berry? He doesn't always break. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative." "Hear that. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l.-b. stick a bat in the way." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. A grim determination to do their best.-w. Berry.-b. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. He breaks like sin all over the shop. for this or any the pavilion. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings." said Burgess blankly.

broke it. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. He sent them down medium-pace. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. he was smartly at thirty." he said. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. He got up. The cloud began to settle again. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. and scoring a couple of twos off it. and the second tragedy occurred. and took off his blazer. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. Mike was silent and thoughtful. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. if we can only stay in.." . Bob was the next man in. He was in after Bob. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. Last man duck. The voice of the scorer. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. he isn't. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's. "The only thing is. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. He started to play forward. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. but this the next ball. Ellerby took off his pads. No. The wicket'll get better. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. we might have a chance." Ellerby echoed the remark. "One for two. Bob's out!. Ten for two was not good. Mike nodded." said Ellerby. The last of the over had him in two minds. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. "This is all right. By George. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. With the score Freece. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. He had then. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. but it was considerably better than one for two. stumped.. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back.This brought Marsh to the batting end. jumping out to drive. "It's getting trickier every minute. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over.

"Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. 54. The wicket-keeper. which was repeated. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. The melancholy youth put up the figures. . 12.. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. I believe we might win yet. When he had gone out to bat against the M. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. He came to where Mike was sitting. Mike." said Mike." "Bob's broken his egg. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. A howl of delight went up from the school. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. as Ellerby had done. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed.. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied." said Ellerby. "Good man. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist. Berridge was out by a yard. had fumbled the ball." "All right. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away." he said. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. more by accident than by accurate timing. _fortissimo_. "Forty-one for four.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. If only somebody would knock him off his length. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here. as if it were some one else's. Every little helps. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. you silly ass. He was cool. however. "That's the way I was had. when.C. But now his feelings were different." said Ellerby.C. and try and knock that man de Freece off. "I'm going to shove you down one. and had nearly met the same fate. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. There was no sense of individuality. 5. on the board. Oh. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school." said Mike. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob." said Ellerby. Jackson.. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. the batsmen crossed.

A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. as he settled himself to face the bowler. in school matches. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day.-b. considering his pace. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. But something seemed to whisper to him. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. and not short enough to take liberties with. apparently. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. and hit it before it had time to break. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. and whipped in quickly. He knew what to do now. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. and stepped back. finer players. They had been well pitched up. And Mike took after Joe. Indeed. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. The ball hit his right pad. It pitched slightly to leg. and he had smothered them. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. but this time off the off-stump.Fitness. The next ball was of the same length. Joe would be in his element. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. that he was at the top of his batting form. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. a comfortable three. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. He felt that he knew where he was now. to do with actual health. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. The umpire shook his head. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them.-w. De Freece said nothing. . It has nothing. Mike jumped out. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. Mike had faced half-left. or very little.

He might possibly get out off his next ball. He had an excellent style. that this was his day. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. to a hundred. Mike could see him licking his lips. a half-volley to leg. There was nervousness written all over him. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. At a hundred and four. the next man in." said Berridge. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. for neither Ashe. "Sixty up." said Ellerby.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. He had made twenty-six.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic. In the present case. "Don't say that. But Mike did not get out. or he's certain to get out. The last ball of the over. Henfrey. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. Apparently. and so. His departure upset the scheme of things. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. in the pavilion. and de Freece's pet googly. but he was uncertain. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. however. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. It was a long-hop on the off. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. . and the wicket was getting easier. but he was full of that conviction. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. was a promising rather than an effective bat. Practically they had only one. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. For himself he had no fear now. the score mounted to eighty. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. And." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. he lifted over the other boundary. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. (Two years later. and made twenty-one. To-day he never looked like settling down. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. he made a lot of runs. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. He survived an over from de Freece. mainly by singles. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence." "You ass. thence to ninety. nor Grant. it was Ripton who were really in the better position.

[Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. announced that he had reached his fifty. and a school prefect to boot. The last ball of the over he mishit. It rolled in the direction of third man. As it was. But the sixth was of a different kind. But it was going to be done. I shall get outed first ball. "Come on.. A distant clapping from the pavilion. and he would have been run out. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. Mike took them.He was not kept long in suspense. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in.. But each time luck was with him. "collar the bowling all you know. Could he go up to him and explain that he. "Over. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. . and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. The wicket was almost true again now. and it was possible to take liberties. or we're done. Jackson. but this happened now. The fast bowler. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. taken up a moment later all round the ground. it all but got through Mike's defence. The next over was doubly sensational. But he did not score. and set his teeth. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. Forty to win! A large order." said the umpire.. but even so." "All right." said Mike. "For goodness sake." he whispered. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. Another fraction of a second. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. was well-meaning but erratic. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. he stopped it. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account." shouted Grant.

The next moment the crisis was past." said Maclaine. Grant looked embarrassed." "The funny part of it is. Mike's knees trembled. meeting Burgess in the pavilion." continued he. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. The school broke into one great howl of joy. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. and rolled back down the pitch. * * * * * "Good game. I say." said Maclaine. but determined. A great stillness was over all the ground. and touched the off-stump." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. and the bowling was not de Freece's." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. rough luck on de Freece. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. There were still seven runs between them and victory. Mike had got the bowling. It was an awe-inspiring moment. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . The fifth curled round his bat. It was young Jackson. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. He bowled rippingly. A bail fell silently to the ground. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. by the way?" "Eighty-three. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. Brother of the other one. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over. Point and the slips crowded round.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. For four balls he baffled the attack. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run.

He's been wounded in a duel. conversationally. Mr. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. "Bush-ray." said Marjory." said Phyllis. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk." added Phyllis. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman.It was a morning in the middle of September. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee." He opened the letter and began to read. "Buck up." ." "With a bushranger. Jackson was reading letters. Mike's place was still empty. interested. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them." began Gladys Maud. bush-ray. Jackson." said Ella. "Sorry I'm late. bush-ray. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep. Mrs. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. "Is there?" said Mike. referred to in a previous chapter. The rest. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man. through the bread-and-milk. "Bush-ray. Mike read on." she shouted." "I wish Mike would come and open it. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. The Jacksons were breakfasting. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. had settled down to serious work. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. Jackson) had resulted. The hour being nine-fifteen. including Gladys Maud. but expects to be fit again shortly." explained Gladys Maud. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. in a victory for Marjory. but was headed off. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock. Mike. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. "Bushrangers." said Mr. "There's a letter from Wyatt. "He gives no details. who had duly secured the stakes.

. and so it was. So this rotter. Jackson. proceeded to cut the fence. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. He fired as we came up. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. but it turned out it was only his leg. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. and missed him clean every time. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here. A chap called Chester. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. and tooled after him. instead of shifting off. it was practically a bushranger. We nipped on to a couple of horses. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. a good chap who can't help being ugly. and loosed off. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. so he came to us and told us what had happened. "Anyhow.. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. I say." said Marjory. I thought he was killed at first. Well. That's the painful story. Jackson. which has crocked me for the time being.. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. After a bit we overtook him.. and coming back. Hurt like sin afterwards. which had fallen just by where I came down. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. pulled out our revolvers. It happened like this.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. "No. and dropped poor old Chester. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. an Old Wykehamist. Chester was unconscious. and that's when the trouble began. I picked it up." said Phyllis. he wanted to ride through our place. Missed the first shot. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. and it was any money on the Gaucho. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp.. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. I got going then. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. and his day's work was done. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. so I shall have to stop. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . and I were dipping sheep close by. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. Here you are. "I told you it was a duel.. summing up. so excuse bad writing. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. and go through that way. Only potted him in the leg." said Mike. This is what he says.

as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. she would do it only as a favour. and did the thing thoroughly. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had. Blake used to write when you were in his form. "I'm a bit late. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket." she said." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. "I say." "He didn't mean it really. as Mr. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents." she said. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. She was fond of her other brothers. the meal was nearly over. looked on in a detached sort of way." said Mike philosophically. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. that's a comfort. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. "Hullo. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. Mrs. But he was late. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad." Mike seemed concerned. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. fetching and carrying for Mike. even for Joe." . Mike. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. though for the others. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. as she always did. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. but Mike was her favourite. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. as usual. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face." said Marjory. It's the first I've had from Appleby. He looked up interested. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. Father didn't say anything." Marjory was bustling about. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. Jackson had gone into the kitchen. jumping up as he entered. Mike. Mr. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you." "Have you? Thanks awfully. while Marjory. She had adopted him at an early age. "Your report came this morning." "No. When he came down on this particular morning. Jackson had disappeared. taking his correspondence with him. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end.

was delighted. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. indeed.C. He had always had the style. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. By the way. Master Mike. Mike. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting." "What for?" "I don't know. on the arrival of Mr. however. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. "Oh. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. Mr. who treated his sons as companions. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. and Mike was to reign in his stead. and now he had the strength as well. He had filled out in three years. father wants you. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . Let's go and see. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out."What ho!" interpolated Mike. Phyllis met him. Saunders. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M." "I wish I wasn't. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket." was his muttered exclamation. From time to time." he said. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report. was not returning next term. Everybody says you are. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. appalled by the fear of losing his form. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. "You _are_. minor match type." Mike's jaw fell slightly. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. It was early in the Easter holidays." Henfrey. but already he was beginning to find his form." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. "you'll make a century every match next term.C. it's a beastly responsibility. At night sometimes he would lie awake. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. He seems--" added Phyllis." "Where?" "He's in the study. Why. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. He liked the prospect. "in a beastly wax. As he was walking towards the house. I've been hunting for you. She was kept busy. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. I wonder if he's out at the net now.

"It is. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump. what is more. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so. "Come in.'" "We were doing Thucydides." said his father. .previous term. therefore. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. very poor." Mike. It was on this occasion that Mr." said Mr. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings. not once. is that my report. but on several occasions.'" quoted Mr. he paused." "'Mathematics bad. father?" said Mike. There followed an awkward silence. and Mr. both in and out of school. skilled in omens. "your report. that Jackson entered the study. Inattentive and idle. scented a row in the offing. with a sort of sickly interest." "'Latin poor. Jackson was a man of his word. Mike.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. Jackson in measured tones." "Oh. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. Jackson. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now. "I want to speak to you. Greek. which he declines to use in the smallest degree." "Here are Mr. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning. Book Two." replied Mr. Jackson. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had.'" "It wasn't anything really. kicking the waste-paper basket. "'French bad. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French. I say!" groaned the record-breaker. "'His conduct. "I want you to listen to this report." "Oh.

and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. He knew it would be useless. spectacled youth who did not enter . He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. Mike?" said Mr. The tragedy had happened. when he made up his mind. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer. He did not approve of it. and there was an end of it. "It is not a large school. "I am sending you to Sedleigh. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. or their Eight to Bisley."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life." was his next remark." Mike's heart thumped. pure and simple. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. Jackson was sorry for Mike. his father. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. He understood cricket. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. Mr.' There is more to the same effect. but still blithely). Jackson. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. Mike said nothing." he said. and Mr. He understood him. perhaps. birds were twittering. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. and for that reason he said very little now." Mr. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black." Barlitt was the vicar's son. Mr. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. "I shall abide by what I said. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. a silent. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. but it has one merit--boys work there." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. Mike's point of view was plain to him. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole." he said blankly. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy.

George!" "I'll walk. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. sir. You can't miss it. sir. sir. "Mr. He thought. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. Barlitt's mind was massive. Hi. The future seemed wholly gloomy." said Mike frigidly. It was such . The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. pulled up again. A sombre nod. Mike said nothing. got up. and the man who took his ticket. sir. "So you're back from Moscow. He disliked his voice. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. so far from attempting to make the best of things. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. "It's a goodish step. and said. seeing the name of the station. It's straight on up this road to the school." said the porter. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. bustling up. thanks. Jackson. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. "Young gents at the school. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's." "Here you are. but not much conversation had ensued. sorrier for himself than ever. It's waiting here. "For the school. and Mike. opened the door." added Mr. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour.very largely into Mike's world. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. Then he got out himself and looked about him. sir. He walked off up the road." said Mike. Mike nodded. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. He hated the station. Also the boots he wore. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. sir." "Right. sir." "Worse luck. And. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place." "Thank you. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. for instance. and the colour of his hair. his appearance. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said.

Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. but he was not to be depended upon. at that. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. too. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. This must be Sedleigh. now that he was no longer there. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. but almost as good. Which was the bitter part of it. About now. And as captain of cricket. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. Outwood. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. Outwood's. Wrykyn. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. Outwood. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. But it was not the same thing. There were three houses in a row. For the last two seasons he had been the star man." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. free bat on his day. "Yes." . and. He inquired for Mr. on top of all this. Presently the door opened. going in first. Mike went to the front door. would be weak this year. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. from the top of a hill. Enderby. Outwood's was the middle one of these. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. sir. and the house-master appeared. and was shown into a room lined with books. might make a century in an hour. Once he crossed a river. It was soon after this that he caught sight. Strachan was a good. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. He had never been in command. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. and had lost both the Ripton matches. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. if he survived a few overs. and knocked. Now it might never be used. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. And now. who would be captain in his place. "Jackson?" he said mildly. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. Burgess. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country.absolutely rotten luck. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. the return by over sixty points. The football fifteen had been hopeless.

that's to say. He strayed about. Oh. in Shropshire. It was a little hard. What's yours?" . A very long. Ambrose. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. You will find the matron in her room. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. thin youth. Good-bye for the present. As Mike entered. where they probably played hopscotch. But this room was occupied." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. All alone in a strange school."I am very glad to see you. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. A Nursery Garden in the Home. then. You come from Crofton. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. He spoke in a tired voice. Quite so. My name. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have." he said. I think you might like a cup of tea. finding his bearings. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. Personally. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. Quite so. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays. Jackson. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. "Take a seat. good-bye. That sort of idea." said Mike. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord." he added pensively. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. standing quite free from the apse wall. was leaning against the mantelpiece. I understand. "Hullo. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. his gloom visibly deepened. sir?" "What? Yes. he spoke. with chamfered plinth. Jackson. yes. very glad indeed. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. "is Smith. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. In many respects it is unique." said the immaculate one. Jackson. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. "Hullo. said he had not. Bishop Geoffrey. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. It will well repay a visit. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. and fixed it in his right eye.

" "But why Sedleigh. so I don't know. When I was but a babe." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here." said Mike. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. then?" "Yes! Why. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass." "No?" said Mike. Cp. and got it. We now pass to my boyhood. or simply Smith. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. If you ever have occasion to write to me. But. yes. By the way. "My infancy. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). But what Eton loses. "Let us start at the beginning. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. too. I shall found a new dynasty. "it was not to be. Sedleigh gains. See?" Mike said he saw. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. the name Zbysco. "but I've only just arrived. "Are you the Bully. . Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. everybody predicting a bright career for me. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. At an early age. I was superannuated last term." "For Eton." he resumed. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. and see that I did not raise Cain. "No. I was sent to Eton. and I don't care for Smythe." said Psmith solemnly. the P not being sounded. See? There are too many Smiths. for choice. there's just one thing." "Bad luck." said Mike. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. before I start.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson. the Pride of the School. Sit down on yonder settee.

" "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. together we may worry through." said Psmith. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. Divided. Sheep that have gone astray. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it." said Psmith. We are companions in misfortune. There's an Archaeological Society in the school." "Wrykyn. Cheer a little. prowling about. Comrade Jackson. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. who told our vicar. There's a libel action in every sentence. He could almost have embraced Psmith."That was the man. To get off cricket. The vicar told the curate. It goes out on half-holidays. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. "hangs a tale. You ought to be one. "You have heard my painful story. we fall. laddie. Now tell me yours. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something. Jawed about apses and things. You work for the equal distribution of property. It's a great scheme. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. We are practically long-lost brothers. dusting his right trouser-leg. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. but a bit too thick for me. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. A noble game. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. Lost lambs. Outwood. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. Bit off his nut. mark you. run by him. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. who told my father. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. And. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. His dislike for his new school was not diminished." ." "And thereby. and so on. who told our curate. will you? I've just become a Socialist." "I am with you. We must stick together. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. The son of the vicar. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years.

" he said. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol. It was a biggish room. two empty bookcases." said Psmith." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other." he said. hand in hand." "Good idea. We must stake out our claims. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp." said Psmith approvingly. Above all. called Wyatt. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. "This'll do us well. we will go out of bounds. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. Let's go and look. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. "Stout fellow." "Not now. You and I. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers." They went upstairs. I suppose they have studies here." said Mike." . and have a jolly good time as well."I'm not going to play here. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown. "We will. hung on a nail. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. This is practical Socialism." "It would take a lot to make me do that. at any rate. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. and a looking-glass. and one not without its meed of comfort. and do a bit on our own account." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme. "'Tis well. Psmith approved the resolve. A chap at Wrykyn. "is the exact programme. Psmith opened the first of these. and get our names shoved down for the Society. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. as it were." "Then let's beat up a study. was one way of treating the situation. We shall thus improve our minds. "Might have been made for us. looking out over the school grounds. We will snare the elusive fossil together. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. and straightening his tie. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood." said Mike. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. There were a couple of deal tables.

Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. as he watched Mike light the Etna. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. There are moments when one wants to be alone. He was full of ideas. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance." said Psmith." A heavy body had plunged against the door. Do you think you could make a long arm." "These school reports. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. And now." said Mike. What's this. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. I had several bright things to say on the subject. and begins to talk about himself. though. sits down. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. was rather a critic than an executant. We make progress. somebody comes right in. We make progress. I wonder. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. Hullo. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. "are the very dickens. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. Similarly." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. That putrid calendar must come down. "You couldn't make a long arm." said Psmith sympathetically. the first thing you know is. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. "Privacy." said Psmith. It's got an Etna and various things in it. could you. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience." . "The weed."His misfortune. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. not ours. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. though the idea was Psmith's." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. A rattling at the handle followed. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. and a voice outside said. if you want to be really useful. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard.

" Psmith went to the table. It is unusual for people to go about the place . 'Don't go. 'Edwin. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. We keep open house. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). Edwin!' And so. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. deeply affected by his recital. and screamed. "It's beastly cheek." inquired the newcomer. "to restore our tissues after our journey. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been." said Psmith." said he. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. put up his eyeglass. a people that know not Spiller." he repeated. you find strange faces in the familiar room. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. practical order. and said.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. Comrade Spiller. we Psmiths." said Psmith. freckled boy. that's what I call it. "Well. it's beastly cheek. we must be prepared for every emergency. Psmith rose courteously from his chair." said Psmith. "In this life. Homely in appearance. 'Edwin. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. Spiller evaded the question. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. Your father held your hand and said huskily." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. and flung it open." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. He went straight to the root of the matter." said Psmith." "My name's Spiller. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. But no. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled.Mike unlocked the door. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours. but one of us. "It's beastly cheek. A stout fellow. Come in and join us. "What the dickens. all might have been well. and this is my study. perhaps. and." "But we do. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. on arrival. I am Psmith. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. "you stayed on till the later train. and cheered himself with a sip of tea. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag.

so. we know.' Take the present case." "Not an unsound scheme.' So he stamped on the accelerator. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible. One's the foot-brake. "All I know is. I am glad to see that you have already made friends." "Look here. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. Spiller pink and determined. . the man of Logic." "But what steps. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside. Spiller. I'm going to have it." "We'll see what Outwood says about it. Spiller. It was Simpson's last term. Mr. Psmith particularly debonair. 'I wouldn't.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed. He cannot cope with the situation. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in. "Ah. We may as well all go together. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. 'Now we'll let her rip. "And Smith. "are you going to take? Spiller. Mike sullen. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once." said Psmith. Error! Ah. and Simpson's left." The trio made their way to the Presence." "Spiller's. it's my study. and skidded into a ditch. let this be a lesson to you. 'I couldn't. you are unprepared. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect." he said.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. Spiller. and I'm next on the house list. and we stopped dead. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. of course." Mr." said Psmith. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point. As it is. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way. sir. By no means a scaly project. The thing comes on you as a surprise. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. He hummed lightly as he walked.bagging studies. But what of Spiller. and the other's the accelerator. and Jackson. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said.' he said.

though small. Smith." "Spiller. Downing. Smith?" "Intensely. sir--" said Spiller. Boys came readily at his call. Smith. games that left him cold. Archaeology fascinates me. I am very pleased." "And Jackson's. "that accounts for it. Smith. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging. Mr. very pleased indeed. appeared to be the main interest in their lives." said Psmith. I will put down your name at once. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please. "One moment." "Please." burst out this paragon of all the virtues." Mr. "I am delighted. Mr. This is capital. Outwood beamed. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. His colleague. Cricket and football. Spiller." "Oh. sir--" said Spiller. Smith. if you were not too busy." . sir. who presided over the School Fire Brigade. while his own band. quite so. This enthusiasm is most capital. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday. Most delighted. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill." pursued Psmith earnestly. not at all." he said at last. "I have been unable to induce to join. sir." he said. I--er--in a measure look after it. Do you want to join. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school." "There is no vice in Spiller. sir. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. tolerantly. "His heart is the heart of a little child." "Please. We have a small Archaeological Society. "One moment. sir. Spiller. sir. two miles from the school. he is one of our oldest members." "Not at all. too!" Mr." "Ah. Is there anything----" "Please. were in the main earnest. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times." said Psmith sadly." "Jackson." said Psmith. "I understand. "Yes. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. never had any difficulty in finding support. sir." "Undoubtedly. A grand pursuit. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. "Yes. sir. sir--" began Spiller."Er--quite so.

of course. You should have spoken before. A very good idea." "All this sort of thing. I come next after Simpson. sir. Smith. "There is just one other matter." said Psmith. very trying for a man of culture. An excellent arrangement." "Yes." "Quite so. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. Edwin. Spiller. "is very." "Quite so. sir." "But. sir. if you could spare the time." "Certainly. Spiller. sir. "This tendency to delay. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means."We shall be there." "Thank you very much. Fight against it." shouted Spiller. as they closed the door." said Mike. sir. sir. always be glad to see Spiller in our study." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE . Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. sir--" said Spiller. "We should. sir. Outwood. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller." "Thank you very much. "One moment." He turned to Mr. "Please. Correct it. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. sir. "is your besetting fault. We will move our things in. Spiller. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house. Spiller." said Psmith. Smith. sir. Smith. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him." "Capital!" "Please." he said. Quite so.

as you rightly remark. they can only get at us through the door." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study." said Psmith. I mean." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. but we can't stay all night. he would not have appreciated it properly. but we must rout him out once more. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once. and this time there followed a knocking. I say. "We will now. and we can lock that. This place would have been wasted on Spiller. "The difficulty is. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it. though." he said with approval. I don't like rows." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. Comrade Jackson. "We ought to have known each other before. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. face the future for awhile." As they got up. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart. . I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. We are as sons to him. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place." "And jam a chair against it. jam a chair against it." Mike was finishing his tea." "The loss was mine." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this. Smith. the door handle rattled again." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off."There are few pleasures. "about when we leave this room." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller. there is nothing he can deny us. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home. with your permission. Here we are in a stronghold. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. we're all right while we stick here." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man." "_And_. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. "He thinks of everything! You're the man." said Psmith courteously." he said.

" "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better. with. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass." "As I suspected. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it." said Mike. not more. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson." Mike unlocked the door." "How many _will_ there be. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets." giggled Jellicoe. only it belongs to three ."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's. say. "If you move a little to the left. Do you happen to know of any snug little room." said Psmith. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature." "Old Spiller. in his practical way." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour." sighed Psmith. "He might get about half a dozen." said Psmith. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it. then?" asked Mike. "Let us parley with the man." he explained." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. A light-haired youth with a cheerful." said Psmith. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out." said Psmith." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that. for instance." "Sturdy common sense. "I just came up to have a look at you. _I_ think Spiller's an ass." said Psmith approvingly. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike. "is cursing you like anything downstairs. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe.

crowding . A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance. the others waited outside. Things." "We were wondering. Smith." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down." he said. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. and some other chaps." "And we can have the room." "You make friends easily." said Psmith. sir. "We must apologise for disturbing you. Jellicoe and myself." This time it was a small boy. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. The handle began to revolve again. Ah. "has sprung up between Jackson. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help. I think. Smith?" he said. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. if you would have any objection to Jackson. I like to see it--I like to see it." he said." "And now. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. "are beginning to move. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. Better leave the door open. come in. as they returned to the study." Mr. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. Comrade Spiller." "I believe in the equal distribution of property." said Psmith. "That door." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. but shall be delighted to see him up here. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. Smith. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. "Yes. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder. it will save trouble. as the messenger departed. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. sir----" "Not at all.chaps.

" said Psmith approvingly. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study." said Spiller. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. you chaps. was it? Well. the door. the first shot has been fired. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe. I say. but it was needless. "They'll have it down. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. "Come on. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson." A heavy body crashed against the door. "We must act. and then to stand by for the next attack. Mike. and the handle. Mike jumped to help. "Robinson. the captive was already on the window-sill. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. instead of resisting. ." said Mike. Jellicoe giggled in the background. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. "A neat piece of work. slammed the door and locked it. swung open. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. however. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. This time. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. and Mike. "Look here. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. was just in time to see Psmith. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. The dogs of war are now loose. For a moment the doorway was blocked. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. turning after re-locking the door. stepping into the room again. always. Comrade Spiller. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below." said Jellicoe." "You'll get it hot. if you don't. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. the enemy gave back." "We'll risk it. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. As Mike arrived." cried Spiller suddenly. but Mike had been the doorway. His was a simple and appreciative mind. "Who was our guest?" he asked.

Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night.Somebody hammered on the door. "we shall have to go now. "No. "Tea. but Psmith was in his element." he said." The passage was empty when they opened the door. we would be alone." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in." "They won't do anything till after tea." said Psmith." said Mike. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. "is exciting. When they had been in the study a few moments. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. but it can't go on. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. "There's no harm in going out. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. you know. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound." said Jellicoe. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term." "This. nip upstairs as quickly as you can." said Mike. of course. you'll only get it hotter if you don't. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. Spiller. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. I shouldn't think. and have it out?" said Mike." "Leave us. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door. Jellicoe knocked at the door. they were first out of the room. "You'd better come out. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time. leaning against the mantelpiece. and see what happens. Well. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace." A bell rang in the distance. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. Spiller's face was crimson. we will play the fixture on our own ground." Mike followed the advice. . It read: "Directly this is over.

" said Mike. therefore. where Robinson also had a bed. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. as predicted by Jellicoe. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. he'll simply sit tight. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. "And touching. closing the door. they rag him. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. We shall be glad of his moral support. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. _ne pas_. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. well-conducted establishment. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. It was probable." said Psmith placidly. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. that human encyclopaedia. retiring at ten. and disappeared again. "only he won't. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage." said Psmith. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether. Shall we be moving?" Mr. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. He never hears anything. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room." said Jellicoe." said Psmith. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. As to the time when an attack might be expected. deposed that Spiller." "Then I think. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven."Quite right. Mr. And now. "the matter of noise." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. but otherwise. .

too. Subject to your approval." said Psmith. they may wait at the top of the steps. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. There was a creaking sound. as on this occasion. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. had heard the noise. directly he heard the door-handle turned. . Comrade Jackson. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. waiting for him. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. There were three steps leading down to it. and a slight giggle. "we will retire to our posts and wait. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. silence is essential. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. showed that Jellicoe. "These humane preparations being concluded. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. If they have. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. If they have no candle. which is close to the door. Mike was tired after his journey. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. listening. He would then----" "I tell you what. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. I always ask myself on these occasions. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. Napoleon would have done that. Comrade Jellicoe. "Dashed neat!" he said." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. then they'll charge forward and all will be well." said Mike. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. too. I have evolved the following plan of action. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. but far otherwise. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe."How about that door?" said Mike. especially if. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. When we heard that there was a society here. with fervour. eh?" It was a master." He stumped off. It gets him into idle. I like every new boy to begin at once. Scarcely had he gone. shaking his head." "A very wild lot. both in manner and appearance." said Psmith." Adair turned. "Now _he's_ cross. I suppose I can't hinder you. The more new blood we have. I want every boy to be keen. Comrade Outwood loves us. Outwood last night. sir. "I saw Adair speaking to you. "If you choose to waste your time. I fear. sir. "I don't like it. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. I suppose you will both play." said Psmith." said Mr." Mr. nothing else. sir." said Psmith. a keen school. the Archaeological Society here." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys. and walked on. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. Downing vehemently.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees. too. sir. Archaeology is a passion with us." "I never loaf. A short." "At any rate." sighed Psmith. We are. looking after him. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys. to an excitable bullfinch. Let's go on and see what sort . It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff. "I was not alluding to you in particular. I tell you I don't like it. I was referring to the principle of the thing. We want keenness here. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr." "On archaeology. "Excellent. loafing habits. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. we went singing about the house. sir. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. above all. the better. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance." "We are. not wandering at large about the country." "Good job. But in my opinion it is foolery.

Numbers do not make good cricket. There were times. "I _will_ be good. Stone and Robinson themselves. What made it worse was that he saw. Altogether. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. were both fair batsmen. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. Any sort of a game. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. and Wyatt. It couldn't be done. Lead me to the nearest net. He did not repeat the experiment. was a mild. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. that swash-buckling pair. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. to begin with. by the law of averages. but there were some quite capable men. and Stone was a good slow bowler. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. mostly in Downing's house. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. And now he positively ached for a game.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. He was not a Burgess. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. Adair. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. the head of Outwood's. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. Mike would have placed above him. was a very good bowler indeed. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. There were other exponents of the game. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. in his three years' experience of the school. It was on a Thursday afternoon. after watching behind the nets once or twice. The batting was not so good. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. Barnes._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. after . and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. and Milton. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. when the sun shone.

"This is the first eleven net." he said. The day was warm. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. to be absolutely accurate. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. and brood apart for awhile. Mike repeated his request. He was amiable." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. He looked up. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. was the first eleven net. "by the docility of our demeanour. and kept them by his aide. This is the real cricket scent." said Adair coldly. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. "Having inspired confidence." it may be observed. Let us find some shady nook where a . even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. Roman camps. More abruptly this time. but patronising. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. let us slip away. "This net. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. and he patronised Adair was taking off his pads after his innings." "Over there" was the end net. He went up to Adair. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. give me the pip. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. "What?" he said. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. seemed to enjoy them hugely. Psmith approached Mike. Mr. and was trying not to show it. Mike. He patronised fossils. He was embarrassed and nervous. he would have patronised that. for Mr. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. Psmith. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. as he sat there watching. Mike walked away without a word. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet. "Go in after Lodge over there. from increased embarrassment. could stand it no longer.

" said Psmith. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles. "and no farther. and listen to the music of the brook. and sitting down. and closed his eyes. "I was just having a look round. Mike sat on for a few minutes. hitching up the knees of his trousers. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. We will rest here awhile. I rather think I'll go to sleep. "And. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him." said Psmith. In fact. jumped the brook. and they strolled away down the hill. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. Ah." And Psmith. Their departure had passed unnoticed. and began to bark vigorously at him. Looking back. this looks a likely spot. He came back to where the man was standing. lay down." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. Call me in about an hour. Mike liked dogs. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. At the further end there was a brook. for the Free Foresters last summer. Mine are like some furrowed field." Mike." "The dickens you--Why. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. Comrade Jackson. "A fatiguing pursuit. unless you have anything important to say. offered no opposition. In passing. He was a short. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. and then. dancing in among my . "Thus far. and. Mike would have carried on. but he could not place him. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. and began to explore the wood on the other side. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. In the same situation a few years before. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. above all." he said. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. He was too may lie on his back for a bit. finding this a little dull. and trusted to speed to save him. on acquaintance. he got up. they always liked him. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. "I played against you. broad young man with a fair moustache. I can tell you.

"I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away." And he told how matters stood with him." "That's all right." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike. You made fifty-eight not out. I say. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason. if you want me to. I'm simply dying for a game. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about.nesting pheasants." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies." he concluded. Very keen. "Only village. * * * * * . I'll tell you how it is. We all start out together. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked." "I'll play on a rockery. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now." "Thanks. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. "I hang out down here. It's just off the London road. you know. By the way. but no great shakes. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. There's a sign-post where you turn off. but I could nip back. turning to the subject next his heart. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine." "I'm frightfully sorry." "I'll give you all you want. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. only cover dropped it. Look here. By Jove. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. He began to talk about himself. You're Prendergast." "I'll lend you everything." "You ought to have had me second ball. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is. "Any Wednesday or Saturday. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground." said Mike. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. "So. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. you see.

to enjoy himself."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. I say. Downing's special care. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. If you like the game. sleepily. indeed. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. Jackson. on being awakened and told the news. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. employed doing "over-time. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. Mike began." "My lips are sealed. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. but it was a very decent substitute. Mr. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . Downing. life can never be entirely grey. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. though he would not have admitted it. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. and the most important. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. don't tell a soul. will you? I don't want it to get about." * * * * * That Saturday. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. Downing. To Mr. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. fussy. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. I think I'll come and watch you." One of the most acute of these crises. "I'm going to play cricket. Cricket I dislike. It was. and it grew with further acquaintance. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. pompous. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. It was not Wrykyn. punctuated at intervals by crises. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. Downing. As time went on. never an easy form-master to get on with. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. and Mr. for a village near here. To Mike. Mr. M.

of Outwood's house. light-hearted dog with a white coat. Downing. and under the captain a vice-captain. Under them were the rank and file. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. Downing pondered "Red. under him was a captain. Wilson. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. "Shall I put it to the vote. who. To show a keenness for cricket was good. To-day they were in very fair form. As soon as Mr. an engaging expression. Stone. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. Downing. a tenor voice." Red. Downing had closed the minute-book. a sort of high priest. In passing. Outwood. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. with green stripes. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. Sammy. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. spirit. At its head was Mr. short for Sampson. had joined young and worked their way up. sir. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. Downing's form-room. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. Sammy was the other. The proceedings always began in the same way. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. who looked on the Brigade in the right. about thirty in all. and a particular friend of Mike's. The Brigade was carefully organised. We will now proceed to the painful details." . sir?" asked Stone. the tongue of an ant-eater. "One moment.esteem of Mr. "Well. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. or Downing. Stone and Robinson. He had long legs. sir. He was a large. Downing. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. These two officials were those sportive allies. of the School House. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. with a thin green stripe. held up his hand. was the Sedleigh colour. Wilson?" "Please. and was apparently made of india-rubber. The rest were entirely frivolous. much in request during French lessons. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all.

the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. Well." said Stone. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. We cannot plunge into needless expense. sit down--Wilson. the danger!" "Please. Mr. out of the question. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. Stone. sir. of course. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. and the meeting had divided."Those in favour of the motion move to the left." A scuffling of feet." . Wilson?" "Please." said Robinson. listen to me. Mr. sir-r-r!" "But. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are." "Please. of course. get back to your place. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please. "Silence!" "Then. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. sir. Downing banged on his desk. sir. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. sir. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. sir. sir. Stone. sir. "Sit down!" he said. sir. those against it to the right. "I don't think my people would be pleased. please. perfectly preposterous. sir." "Please. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. The whole strength of the company: "Please.

sir?" inquired Mike." said Stone helpfully. "It's outside the door. sir? No. _please_. I want you boys above all to be keen. Jackson." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. He was not alone. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. sir?" said a voice "off. sir!" "This moment. sir-r-r. "Very well--be quick. sir. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. "Sir." he remarked frostily. leave the room!" "Sir. Mr." he said. I'm not making a whining noise. there must be less of this flippancy. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. We must have keenness. mingled with cries half-suppressed. "do me one hundred lines. Wilson!" "Yes. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. sir?" asked Mike. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. "May I fetch a book from my desk. The muffled cries grew more distinct. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. Downing." as he reached the door. "A bird. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. no. we are busy. I think." said Robinson. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle." was cut off by the closing door. Downing." "What _sort_ of noise. puzzled. Those near enough to see. And.Mr. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. "Our Wilson is facetious. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. sir. "Noise." A pained "OO-oo-oo. sir?" asked Mike. "I think it's something outside the window. Downing smiled a wry smile. sir. as many Wrykynians . Downing. Wilson.

Downing shot out orders. Come in. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. bustling scene. you will be severely punished." "Yes. others flung books. Mr. Vincent. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end." said the invisible Wilson. sir. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation. _Quietly_. "A rat!" shouted Robinson.had asked before him. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. "I do not propose. Jackson and Wilson. all of you. It was a stirring." put in Stone. the same! Go to your seat." said Mr. among the ruins barking triumphantly." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. Mr." "Or somebody's boots. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun." Crash! . one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. sir. threats. Downing acidly. Henderson. each in the manner that seemed proper to him." "They are mowing the cricket field. go quietly from the room. Some leaped on to forms. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. Chaos reigned. sir. "to imitate the noise. "Stone. What are you doing. Downing. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. all shouted." added Robinson. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. It is a curious whining noise. and was now standing. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. I said. Downing's desk resembled thunder. rising from his place. remain. like Marius. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. if you do not sit down. "They do sometimes. The banging on Mr. "Perhaps that's it. sit down! Donovan.

" said Wilson." The meeting dispersed. Wilson?" "Please. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . but Mr. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. frivolous at times. Jackson." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. I fear."Wolferstan." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him. "Well. Downing turned to Mike. We are a keen school. as one who tells of strange things. and paid very little for it. I had to let him go. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. but nevertheless a member. sir. Mike the dog. Jackson. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike." And Mr. come here. "You may go. everybody. so he came in. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance." said Mike. but when you told me to come in." It was plain to Mr. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. Wilson. it was true. Mr. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. Wilson had supplied the rat. too. Mr. Downing walked out of the room. and had refused to play cricket." he said. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines. Also he kept wicket for the school. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. Go quietly from the room. Jackson. sir. "Jackson and Wilson. and he came in after the rat. sir." "I tried to collar him. That will do. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. "One hundred lines. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time.

Stone beamed. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. forgotten. They sat down. Jellicoe came into the room. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. (Which. after the Sammy incident. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. I'm in a beastly hole. as a matter of fact. asked for the loan of a sovereign. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. they should have it. I do happen to have a quid. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. "You're a sportsman. "I say." said Mike. "As a matter of fact. "What did he give you?" asked Stone." said Robinson. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. Mike's heart warmed to them. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. But it's about all I have got. by return of post.They say misfortunes never come singly. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. it may be stated at once. He was in warlike mood. Robinson was laughing. You can freeze on to it. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle." "Oh. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. he would be practically penniless for weeks. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. without preamble. and. he did. He felt that he. sorry. so don't be shy about paying it back. the return match. Robinson on the table. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. and welcomed the intrusion. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. and got up. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. Mike put down his pen. if you like. There was. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. done with. contemporary with Julius Caesar. The fact is.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson.

"Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. They were absolutely free from brain. "I got Saturday afternoon. They go about. loud and boisterous." . As to the kind of adventure. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. "are a rag. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished.'" quoted Stone. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. and you never get more than a hundred lines. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. and began to get out the tea-things. "Well. and then they usually sober down. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world." said Mike." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. "Those Fire Brigade meetings. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings." said Stone. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. If you know one end of a bat from the other. "Were you sacked?" "No. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. a keen school. Masters were rather afraid of them. My pater took me away. you could get into some sort of a team. and a vast store of animal spirits. He got a hundred lines. small and large." "Don't you!" said Mike. You can do what you like. They had a certain amount of muscle. As for Mike. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. They were useful at cricket." "'We are. Winifred's" brand. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here. above all.public school. he now found them pleasant company. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn.

You don't get ordered about by Adair. and I should have been captain this year." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running."Wrykyn?" said Robinson. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup. look here. and knock the cover off him. W. "Enough for six." "Think of the rag. for a start. I say." said Mike. "I've got an idea. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. Stone gaped. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler. "By Jove." "Adair sticks on side. Place called Little Borlock. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. We're playing Downing's. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. "I did." said Stone." agreed Robinson. but they always have it in the fourth week. Stone broke the silence. I play for a village near here." said Stone. I was in the team three years." "What!" "Well." "Masters don't play in house matches. yes. There are always house matches. You _must_ play. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day. surely?" "This isn't a real house match. if I'd stopped on. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day." . "Why." said Robinson. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten. do play. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. My word. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. I say. Only a friendly. and the others?" "Brother. "Why.

Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. Downing assumed it. "The list isn't up yet. quite unexpectedly. and a murmur of excited conversation. I was in the team."But the team's full." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. and when. JACKSON. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. Barnes appeared." he said. Jackson. Mr." said Mike. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. Most leap at the opportunity. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. . "I say." he said. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door. THEN." They dashed out of the room. Downing he had the outward aspect of one. Mike was not a genuine convert. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M." said Mike. He studied his _Wisden_. It was so in Mike's case. Then footsteps returning down the passage. then. and make him alter it. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. "Are you the M. but to Mr. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him." "Yes. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. "I say. I mean. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert. "Thanks awfully. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted.

and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. I notice. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. "I like to see it. Downing's No. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. contrives to get an innings in a game. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister." said Psmith earnestly. It is the right spirit. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. above all. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. competition is fierce. 2 manner--the playful. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. * * * * * Barnes." "In our house. with a kind of mild surprise. sir. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. sir. except for the creases. "We are." he said. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. becomes the cricketer of to-day. where the nervous new boy. working really hard. "What!" he cried. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. Drones are not welcomed by us. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. who was with Mike. Mike. "a keen house. in the way he took ." "Indeed. as captain of cricket. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. timidly jubilant. Your enthusiasm has bounds. We are essentially versatile. had naturally selected the best for his own match. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. the archaeologist of yesterday. sir. on the cricket field.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. Downing. With Mike it was different. Mike saw. Adair. Jackson. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. Smith? You are not playing yourself. It was a good wicket. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness.

Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. and ended with a combination of step and jump. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. as the ball came . but it stopped as Mr. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. and he knew that he was good. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. was billed to break from leg. The ball. Mr. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. in his stand at the wickets. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. and. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. as several of the other games had not yet begun. Mike went out at it. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. Mike took guard. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. A half-volley this time. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. "Get to them. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. two long steps. He had got a sight of the ball now. The ball was well up. Mike slammed it back. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous.guard. when delivered. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. they were disappointed. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. gave a jump. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. and mid-on. took three more short steps. This time the hope was fulfilled. Downing's slows. Jenkins. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own." said Mr. slow. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. He took two short steps. but the programme was subject to alterations. Downing irritably. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. The first over was a maiden. and off the wicket on the on-side. and dashed up against the rails. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. The fieldsmen changed over. Mike started cautiously. failed to stop it. six dangerous balls beautifully played.

This happened now with Mr. Then he looked up. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. and. Downing bowled one more over. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. waited in position for number four. and the total of his side. where. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. Mr. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. sat on the splice like a limpet. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. please." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. offering no more chances. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. By the time the over was finished. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. And a shrill small voice. Mike had then made a hundred and three. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. Downing would pitch his next ball short. Adair came up. Jenkins. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. "Get to them. one is inclined to be abrupt. by three wides. if you can manage it.back from the boundary. and Mike. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. in addition. there was a strong probability that Mr. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. . and then retired moodily to cover-point. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. in Adair's fifth over. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. The third ball was a slow long-hop. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. and bowling well. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. it is usually as well to be batting. Scared by this escape." "Sir. uttered with painful distinctness the words. The expected happened. without the slightest success. Downing. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap.

There's a difference. I said I wasn't going to play here. Three years. "Above it." There was another pause. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. was met with a storm of opposition. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. "That's just the gay idea. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. "I never saw such a chump. Of all masters. Downing. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up." said Stone. "Declare!" said Robinson. Not up to it. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. Barnes's remark that he supposed. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. having got Downing's up a tree. politely. won't they?" suggested Barnes. Mr. "Great Scott. "No. and the school noticed it. "Sick! I should think they would. The result was that not only he himself."I didn't say anything of the kind." Adair was silent for a moment. but also--which was rather unfair--his house." There was a silence. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. too. "I'm not keeping you. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. am I?" said Mike. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. thanks. As a matter of fact. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . I suppose?" "Not a bit.

going in first early in the morning. In no previous Sedleigh match. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. Barnes. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. the small change." "Don't you worry about that. And the rest. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. proceeded to get to business once more. I won't then. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. that directly he had topped his second century. "Only you know they're rather sick already. Bowlers came and went. it was assumed by the field. But still the first-wicket stand continued. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. was bowling really well. playing himself in again. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. each weirder and more futile than the last." said Barnes unhappily. These are the things which mark epochs. tried their luck." said Robinson. or when one is out without one's gun. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future.30." "So do I. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. amidst applause. if I can get it. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. Besides." "Rather not. "If you declare. Downing took a couple more overs." "Well. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. I swear I won't field. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. At four o'clock. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . Games had frequently been one-sided. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. and Stone came out. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. after a full day's play. passing in the road. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much.15. in one of which a horse.can. Adair. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. The first-change pair are poor. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. Nor will Robinson. and that is what happened now. Play was resumed at 2. and Mike. Mr. mercifully. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three." said Stone with a wide grin. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. Time. greatly daring. fortified by food and rest. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces.

.. The game has become a farce." "He's very touchy. There was no reply... Stone.. "I think Barnes must have left the field.. and the next over.. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type. nearly weeping with pure joy. Hammond. we can't unless Barnes does." "This is absurd. not out. Barnes.. 33 M. there was on view..." said Stone." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad.. "Barnes!" "Please.way. DOWNING'S _Outwood's." snapped Mr. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was..... a week later.. First innings. and still Barnes made no sign.." "Declare! Sir. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's. He had an unorthodox style.. sir. a slip of paper. "Barnes!" he called. "This is foolery. Mike's pace had become slower. as a matter of fact.." Mr. too.. P." "It is perfect foolery. sir. and the next after that. Jackson.. as was only natural. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something. But the next ball was bowled. as who should say. was mounting steadily._ J.. You must declare your innings closed. J.. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain. Downing. 277 W. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. just above the mantelpiece. as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board... He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force. Downing walked moodily to his place." "Absurd...) A grey dismay settled on the field.. not out... but his score. and Stone.. "Capital.... and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic..." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl.. And now let's start _our_ innings. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_. _c_... Hassall..... sir.. Lobs were being tried. but an excellent eye.. capital. _b_. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience.. 124 ..

not to mention three wides. Psmith. On the other hand. fagged as he was. and Mike. Twenty-eight off one over. "In an ordinary way. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel. You will probably get sacked. from what I have seen of our bright little friend.. shifting his aching limbs in the chair. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. leaning against the mantelpiece." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again. When all ringing with song and merriment. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket.. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated.. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler.." murmured Mike. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr.. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects.. 37 ----Total (for one wicket). I should say that. In fact.. Downing.. touched me This interested Mike...." he said..." said he... he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue.." "He doesn't deserve to.. 471 Downing's did not bat... Mike. if he had cared to take the part. would have made Job foam at the mouth.. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night... felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot. But your performance was cruelty to animals. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little. "In theory.Extras. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe." . and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day.. in a small way. could have been the Petted Hero... here and there. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out.. slipping his little hand in mine. for three quid.... Comrade Jellicoe and... But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. it's worth it.. "the the place was crept to my side. is. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair. I suppose.." "I don't care...

wrapped in gloom. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. the various points of his innings that day." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. I hope." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. It was done on the correspondence system. He wanted four. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. Well. nothing. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. I can't get to sleep. He uttered no word for quite three minutes. and then dropped gently off. Psmith chatted for general. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. who appeared to be to the conversation. "Are you asleep. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood. as the best substitute for sleep. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. "I say. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. I'm stiff all over. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. clinking sovereigns. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes. but he could not sleep. I'm pretty well cleaned out. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. We may be helping towards furnishing the home." * * * * * a log. . he'll pay me back a bit." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. when he's collected enough for his needs. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind." "Nor can I. Jackson!" he said. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe." There was a creaking. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what." Silence again.

" "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. Have you got any sisters. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. Especially my pater. Why?" "Oh." Mike dozed off again." "Yes. My sister would be jolly sick. and presently you'd hear them come in. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. He was not really listening. I don't know. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. I suppose." The bed creaked. as it were. "Hullo?" he said. After being sacked. And then you'd be sent into a bank. I meant. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. "My pater would be frightfully sick. and the servant would open the door. and you'd go in. or to Australia. My mater would be sick. Jackson? I say. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. and then you'd have to hang about. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. and you'd drive up to the house."Jackson. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. "Nobody." "Everybody's would. So would mine. too. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. They might all be out. or something. and you'd go out into the passage. Then he spoke again. But if you were. in order to give verisimilitude. and all that. "What's up?" "Then you'd say." "Happen when?" "When you got home. I expect. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked." "Hullo?" "I say. you know. and wait. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way.

look out. This thing was too much." Mike pondered." said Jellicoe eagerly. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. You'll wake Smith. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before. do you?" "What!" cried Mike. he was just ordinary. of other members of English public schools. Except on the cricket field." "Any _what_?" "Sisters." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe."Me--Jellicoe. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody. already looking about him for further loans. He was as obstinate as a mule. He resembled ninety per cent. Was it a hobby. though people whom he liked . As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed." "Any what?" "Sisters." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. "I say. He changed the subject. "Do _what_?" "I say. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. He had some virtues and a good many defects. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. I asked if you'd got any. But it's jolly serious. where he was a natural genius. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes." "Whose sisters?" "Yours.

The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. Yesterday's performance. stood in a class by itself. in his childhood. That would probably be unpleasant. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. he had never felt stiffer in his life. And when he set himself to do this. Mr. Downing to come. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. And Mr. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. Mr. there was the interview with Mr. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. one good quality without any defect to balance it. in addition. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. it had to be done. he was in detention. but. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. It was a wrench. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. The great match had not been an ordinary match. where the issue concerned only himself. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. In addition to this. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. He had. who had a sensitive ear. The thought depressed him. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. and had. Bob's postal order. Downing and his house realised this. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. till Psmith. Downing was a curious man in many ways. He was rigidly truthful. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. however. which had arrived that evening. To begin with. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. which made the matter worse. He was always ready to help people. It was a particularly fine day. Where it was a case of saving a friend. He was good-natured as a general thing. . Young blood had been shed overnight.could do as they pleased with him. Finally. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. As Psmith had said. which in itself is enough to spoil a day.

I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. in their experience of the orator. no. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. that would not be dramatic enough for you. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. Macpherson. That is to say. When a master has got his knife into a boy. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him." "Well. he began in a sarcastic strain. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. Mike. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. in the excitement of this side-issue. at sea. sir. Just as. of necessity. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. Mr." concluded Mr. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. works it off on the boy. did with much success. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. As events turned out. you must conceal your capabilities. he was perfectly right." "Please. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers. No. For sarcasm to be effective. Downing. You must act a lie. Downing laughed bitterly. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. Which Mike. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir. that prince of raggers. Downing came down from the heights with a run. since the glorious day when Dunster. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. sir. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. the user of it must be met half-way. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. "You are surrounded. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. when he has trouble with the crew. So Mr. By the time he had reached his peroration. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. Far too commonplace!" Mr. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. "No. I have spoken of this before. which was as a suit of mail against satire.Mr. the speaker lost his inspiration. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. sir. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. It would be too commonplace altogether. And. more elusive. the skipper.

Jellicoe was cheerful. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. "or I'd have helped you over. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in." said Dunster. uttering sharp howls whenever. Dunster. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. a long youth. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion." he groaned. ." "It's swelling up rather. as they crossed the field. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. "I shall have to be going in. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step." "I'll give you a hand. and rather embarrassingly grateful. he prodded himself too energetically. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude." said Mike. puts his hands over his skull. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. Mike had strolled out by himself. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at." said Mike. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. "Awfully sorry. crouches down and trusts to luck. man. is not a little confusing. on hearing the shout. But I did yell. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground. you know. The bright-blazered youth walked the pitch. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. To their left." "Awfully sorry. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. Jellicoe hopping. zeal outrunning discretion. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang. The average person. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. "Silly ass. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. "slamming about like that.

" "Old Smith and I." "Alas. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. felt very much behind the times. Restore your tissues. and turning. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's." said the animal delineator." said Dunster. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. the darling of the crew. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. Comrade Jackson. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon." sighed Psmith. "Return of the exile." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. Before he got there he heard his name called. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy." said Dunster. faithful below he did his duty. Mike." said Dunster. Mike made his way towards the pavilion. apply again. as he walked to the cricket field. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster." stirring sight when we met." "I heard about yesterday. and when you have finished those. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. Have a cherry?--take one or two." said Psmith. I have just been hearing the melancholy details." . Well hit. Dunster gave dawg. I notice. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. "more. "You needn't be a funny ass. Is anything irritating you?" he added. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. "More. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world." said Psmith. pained. man. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. Hullo! another man out. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. I'd no idea I should find him here. The fifth ball bowled a man. "were at a private school together. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind.

Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. I shall get sacked.C. I like to feel that I am doing good. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. I need some one to listen when I talk. Soliloquy is a knack."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe." said Jellicoe gloomily. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted." said Psmith to Mike. "I hadn't heard." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster. he felt disinclined for exertion. the sun was in my eyes. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him. Personally." "Has he?" said Psmith. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much.C. "I mean." said Psmith. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. it'll keep till tea-time. Mike stretched himself. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. "it's too late. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. Hamlet had got it." said Psmith. not so much physical as mental." "Don't dream of moving." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" . "I say." "I shall count the minutes. man. do you?" he said. I suppose. but probably only after years of patient practice. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. at last. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse. "Oh! chuck it.

look here. do you think you could. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. with a red and cheerful face." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. "I say." "It doesn't matter. it's as easy as anything. I'll get out of the house after lights-out. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. has its comic man. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up." "Yes. he was the wag of the village team. hang it!" he said. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon." said Jellicoe miserably. "it can't be helped." said Mike. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'." Jellicoe sat up." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. are you certain----" "I shall be all right. Barley filled the post. Every village team. it can." "What absolute rot!" "But." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. stout man." "He's the chap I owe the money to. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well. called Lower Borlock." "I say. "I'm awfully sorry. He was a large. "Oh." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day. for some mysterious reason." "I say. so I couldn't move. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. only I got crocked."It's about that money. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. who looked . it's frightfully decent of you. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important.

there was nothing strange in Mr. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. another. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . five pounds is a large sum of money. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. "it's locked up at night." "I say." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion." "All right. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness. He took the envelope containing the money without question. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. but it did not occur to him to ask.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings." "I'll get it from him. "I shall bike there. I won't tell him. and if Jellicoe owed it. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. chuck it!" said Mike." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it. which was unfortunate." he said. I----" "Oh. and be full of the milk he was quite different. "if I can get into the shed. I think. "You can manage that. Besides. but I had a key made to fit it last summer. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs. Probably in business hours After all." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it." said Jellicoe.

but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. The advantage an inn has over a private house. "Why. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. Still. Mr. which for the time being has slipped my memory.expulsion. which. by the cricket field. . if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. "One of the Georges. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. communicating with the boots' room. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. 'ullo! Mr. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. "I forget which. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. there you are. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. being wishful to get the job done without delay. of course. too. The place was shut. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. Psmith had yielded up the key. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. until he came to the inn. for many reasons. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. sir?" said the boots. "Yes. with whom early rising was not a hobby. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. Mike did not want to be expelled. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. Jackson. Mike would have been glad of a companion. Probably he would have volunteered to come. also. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. However. Jackson was easy-going with his family." said Psmith. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. I've given you the main idea of the thing. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village.

" "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. Mr. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. which creaked under him. dear!" chuckled Mr. perhaps. . looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. "What's up?" he asked."I want to see Mr. and wiped his eyes. "Oh dear!" he said. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. It was an occasion for rejoicing. Jack. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. Barley. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. "Well. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. and requested him to read it. Mr. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. if it's _that_--" said the boots. Barley opened the letter. Jack. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep." "Oh. "Dear. and now he felt particularly fogged. I've got some money to give to him. "You can pop off. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. Jackson. but rather for a solemn. hoping for light. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. the five pounds. read it. of course. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. and had another attack." Mr. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. Barley." "The five--" Mr. Then he collapsed into a chair. Jackson. thankful. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. who was waiting patiently by." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you." "I must see him. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back.

in contravention of all school rules and discipline. in fact. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. The other day." There was some more to the same effect. is another matter altogether. Barley slapped his thigh. Jellicoe over this. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. about 'ar parse five. Jane--she's the worst of the two. which I could not get before. always up to it. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. Mike was . but to be placed in a dangerous position. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. they are. Jellicoe. simply in order to satisfy Mr. the affair of old Tom Raxley. Barley slapped his leg. So I says to myself. "DEAR MR.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not." it ran. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. "he took it all in. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. since. Mr. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary.--"I send the £5.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. Love us!" Mr. It would have been cruel to damp the man. Mr. Mike. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. took back the envelope with the five pounds. 'I'll have a game with Mr. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. Aberdeen terriers." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. Mischief! I believe you. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. G. I hope it is in time. and the damage'll be five pounds. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. last Wednesday it were. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. finishing this curious document. it was signed "T. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. and rode off on his return journey. BARLEY. but. "Why. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. and as sharp as mustard. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. Barley's sense of humour.

it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. There were two gates to Mr. and through the study window. The suddenness. and running. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. and. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. and as he wheeled his machine in. went out. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. carried on up the water-pipe. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. The carriage drive ran in a find this out for himself. and gone to bed. Without waiting to discover what this might be. As he did so. It was pitch-dark in the shed. his pursuer again gave tongue. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. after which he ran across to Outwood's. Outwood's front garden. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. that the voice had come. nearest to Mr. his foot touched something on the floor. Downing's house. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. It was from the right-hand gate. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. Mike felt easier in his mind. as Mike came to the ground. On the first day of term. With this knowledge. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. however. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. Sergeant Collard . of which the house was the centre. This he accomplished with success. and locked the door. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out.

when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. but. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. Meanwhile. looking out on to the cricket field. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. but Time. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. at Wrykyn. A sound of panting was borne to him. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. His programme now was simple. He ran on. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. shoot up the water-pipe once more. Having arrived there. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. as Mike. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. but he could not run. turned aside. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). The pursuer had given the thing up. His thoughts were miles away. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. turned into the road that led to the school. taking things easily. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. Like Mike. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. this time at a walk. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. with the sergeant panting in his wake. he was evidently possessed of a key. he supposed--on the school clock. He left his cover.was a man of many fine qualities. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. passing through the gate. he sat on the steps. They passed the gate and went on down the road. that he had been seen and followed. "Is that you. disappeared as the runner. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. increasing his girth. Focussing his gaze. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. Then he would trot softly back. and so to bed. The other appeared startled. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. His first impression. Then the sound of footsteps returning. this was certainly the next best thing. instead of making for the pavilion. He would wait till a quarter past. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. if that was out of the question. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. He would have liked to be in bed. .

Adair rode off. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. three doughnuts. Downing. Downing emerged from his gate. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. and. Now it happened that Mr. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. two ices. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. was a very fair stomach-ache. Jackson?" "What are you. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. whistling between his teeth. half a cocoa-nut. and washing the lot down with tea. and a pound of cherries. that MacPhee. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. Adair?" The next moment Mr. was now standing at his front gate. So long." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. and Mr. as a matter of fact. After a moment's pause. an apple. conveyed to him by Adair. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. was disturbed in his mind. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. One of the chaps in our house is bad. He would be safe now in trying for home again. The school clock struck the quarter. It came about. waiting for Adair's return. But Mr."What are you doing out here. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. therefore." Mike turned away. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. All that was wrong with MacPhee. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. at a range of about two yards. with a cry of "Is that you." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. He was off like an . one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. "I'm going for the doctor. He walked in that direction. aroused from his first sleep by the news. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. that Mike." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

" Mr. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. He received the housemaster frostily." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. only. he went straight to the headmaster. "He--he--_what_. on the other hand. Mr. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. The headmaster. did want to smile. I suppose not. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. He did not want to smile. who. escaped and rushed into the road. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. taking advantage of the door being open. no.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. It was not his . deeply interested. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world." "No." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. He had a cold in the head. Mr. A big boy. The Head. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. you say?" "Very big. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. you think?" "I am certain of it. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. was not in the best of tempers. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. "One of the boys at the school. Downing. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. Downing. in spite of his strict orders. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. "Dear me!" he said. instead of running about the road." said Mr." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. whoever he was. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. he wanted revenge.

suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. Downing. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. Downing. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. the rest was comparatively easy. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school." "Impossible. and passed it on to Mr. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. Mr. "Not actually in. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog.. unidentified. he would have to discover him for himself. if he wanted the criminal discovered. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. and Mr. broke into a wild screech of laughter. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. but without result. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. with the exception of Johnson III. Downing. had seen. of Outwood's. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. Downing was not listening. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel." Mr. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. Downing was left with the conviction that. Downing as they walked back to lunch. It was only . It was Mr. as far as I understand. gave him a most magnificent start." Which he did. and Fate. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. Outwood who helped him. at the time. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. who. Outwood. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. Oh yes. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. not to mention cromlechs. attempting to get into his house _via_ the Downing. I think." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house.

sir." he said. sergeant.' he used to say. sir. Downing stated his case. Having requested his host to smoke. he rushed forth on the trail. as a blind man could have told. In due course Mr." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. "Mr. Downing arrived. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. in order to ensure privacy. Outwood. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. he used to say. found himself at liberty. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. Regardless of the claims of digestion. I did.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. "Oo-oo-oo. yer. ejecting the family." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. yer young monkey. sergeant?" "No. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. which the latter was about to do unasked. Downing. Dinner was just over when Mr. "Did you catch sight of his face." he said. "I did. sir. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. sir. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. sir--spotted 'im. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. Oo-oo-oo. Mr. Dook of Connaught. but it finishes in time. and I doubles after 'im prompt. "tells me that last night. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard. I am. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. sir. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. sir. Feeflee good at spottin'." admitted the sergeant reluctantly." "Ah!" .

" Mr. Outwood's house. on Wednesday. while Sergeant Collard. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses. put a handkerchief over his face. sergeant. success in the province of detective work must always be. "Well. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him.C. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. Downing rose to go." "I hope not. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. is it not?" "Feeflee warm. I'm feeflee good at spottin'. Good afternoon. sir." And Mr."Bare-'eaded. sergeant." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. and slept the sleep of the just." "Good-afternoon to you. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. and dusted. sir." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. sir. "I will find my way out. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. The school plays the M. sir. if he persisted in making so much noise. sergeant. rubbing the point in. but it was a dark night." he said. 'cos yer see. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. sir. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them." added the sergeant. rested his feet on the table. having requested Mrs." "So do I. and exhibited clearly. with a label attached. the result of luck. "Good-afternoon. ." "Pray do not move." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. to a very large extent. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead.C. Very hot to-day. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash.

If you go to a boy and say. As he brooded over the case in hand. What he wanted was a clue. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . Mr. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. We should simply have hung around. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. "Sir. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. just as the downtrodden medico did. this time in the shape of Riglett. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. there were clues lying all over the place. but. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. now that he had started to handle his own first case. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. Outwood's house." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. All these things passed through Mr. his sympathy for Dr. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. we should have been just as dull ourselves. of course. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source." the boy does not reply. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon.The average man is a Doctor Watson. how--?" and all the rest of it. if he only knew. Probably. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. to detect anybody. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. he thought. It is practically Stalemate. as a matter of fact. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. requested that way peculiar to some boys. but. unless you knew who had really done the crime. and leaves the next move to you. There were. only a limited number of boys in Mr. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. it would have complicated matters. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. But if ever the emergency does arise. and his methods. but even if there had been only one other. even and. when Fate once more intervened. Mr. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. It certainly was uncommonly hard. shouting to him to pick them up. having capped Mr. tight-lipped smiles. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. a junior member of his house. Watson increased with every minute. saying: "My dear Holmes.

A foot-mark! No less. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt." Riglett. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. and made his way to the shed. Yoicks! There were two things.bicycle from the shed. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. "Get your bicycle. What he saw at first was not a Clue. Your careful detective must consider everything. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. The sound recalled Mr. "Pah!" said Mr. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. Mr. Downing to mundane matters. He felt for his bunch of keys. A foot-mark. Then Mr. In the first place. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . Downing saw it. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. leaving Mr. And this was a particularly messy mess. Red paint. "and be careful where you tread. beneath the disguise of the mess. walking delicately through dry places. Watson could not have overlooked. Mr." he said. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. Downing. blushed. and he is a demon at the game. Downing remembered. but just a mess. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. now coughed plaintively. Mr. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. Downing. he saw the clue. Watson a fair start. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. to be considered. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. stood first on his left foot. Give Dr. Then suddenly. extracted his bicycle from the rack. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. Much thinking had made him irritable. Riglett. The air was full of the pungent scent. however. then on his right. and finally remarked. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. It was the ground-man's paint. Paint. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. Downing unlocked the door. Downing. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled.

Oh. "No. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. on returning to the house. Adair. I suppose. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee. don't get up." he said. You did not do that. sir. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No." "It is spilt all over the floor. Quite so. by the way." "I see. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. He rapped at the door of the first. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. but I could show you in a second. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. Thank you. on the right as you turn out into the road. that there was paint on his boots. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. His is the first you come to. He could get the ground-man's address from him. This was the more probable of the two contingencies. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. and the ground-man came out in . (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. sir. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. Things were moving. sir. Adair. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. There's a barn just before you get to them." "Thank you. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. I shall be able to find them. I didn't go into the shed at all. "Oh. Adair. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. His book had been interesting. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. There are three in a row.

Tell me. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down." "Do you want it. sir. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business." "On the floor?" "On the floor. Makes it look shabby. with the result that it has been kicked over. no. You had better get some more to-morrow. The fact is. ascertain its owner." "Of course. Just as I thought." "Just so. Quite so. Markby.his shirt-sleeves. thank you. sir. "Oh. and denounce him to the headmaster. An excellent idea. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. sir. Thank you. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. sir?" "No. On the shelf at the far end. Regardless of the heat. Markby. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. It wanted a lick of paint bad. too." Mr. and spilt. All he had to do was to go to Mr. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. That is all I wished to know. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. sir? No. Picture. thank you. Markby. The thing had become simple to a degree. blinking as if he had just woke up. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. He was hot on the scent now. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . as was indeed the case. Outwood's house somewhere. yes. It was Sunday. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. sir. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr.

He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. who had just entered the house. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. as he passed." snapped Mr. sir. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. "I was an ass ever to try it." said Mike. so he merely inclined his head gracefully. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value." murmured Psmith courteously." "'Tis well. sir?" "Do as I tell you. found Mr. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. and said nothing. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. "There's a kid in France. He is welcome to them. and Psmith. Downing arrived. What brings him round in this direction. sir. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing." "With acute pleasure. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. Outwood." said Mike disparagingly. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound." Mike walked on towards the field." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. "Enough of this spoolery. "Or shall I fetch Mr. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. Smith. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground." said he. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. Downing. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. "What the dickens. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel. ." said Psmith. I will be with you in about two ticks. I wonder! Still. no matter. That is to say. "A warm afternoon." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything.

"The studies. . "Aha!" said Psmith. sir." said Mr. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough." he cried. Downing looked at him closely." Mr. sir. opening a door. but went down to the matron's room. sir? No. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. That's further down the passage. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. crimson in the face with the exercise. Smith. Downing rose. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. "Excuse me. having examined the last bed. Mr. I understand. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. "we have Barnes' dormitory. "Here. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. sir." Mr. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. sir?" he asked. It is Mr.Psmith said no more." he said. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. Downing stopped short. sir. Smith. sir. baffled. Here we have----" Mr." said Psmith. "I beg your pardon. "Show me the next dormitory." said Psmith. panting slightly. Mr. An airy room. This is Barnes'. An idea struck the master. Downing paused. The matron being out. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master." "I was only wondering. The observation escaped me unawares. Downing with asperity. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. "Is this impertinence studied." They moved on up the passage. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. "Are you looking for Barnes." said Psmith. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. Downing nodded. Smith. "Shall I lead the way. "to keep your remarks to yourself. then moved on. "This. "I think he's out in the field. Each boy. Mr. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. The master snorted suspiciously. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. Psmith waited patiently by.

The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy. is mine and Jackson's." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. Smith." Mr. that Mr." said Mr. Downing suddenly started. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. the distant hills----" Mr. Downing with irritation. "The trees. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith." "Never mind about his cricket. sir."Whose is this?" he asked. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. No." "Not at all." "I think. even in the dusk. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . the field. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. sir. is it not. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. sir. sir." said Psmith. And. sir?" said Psmith." Mr. sir. sir. Smith?" "Jackson. putting up his eyeglass. "A lovely view." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. sir. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar. "No. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. The cricketer. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study. Downing pondered. "This. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. they go out extremely quickly. sir. "Have you no bars to your windows here. Smith. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. rapping a door." "Ah! Thank you.

As it was." " his life." Mr. he rushed straight on. Mr. Downing looked up. Mr. "On the spot. sir. It was a fine performance. Downing knelt on the floor beside . he was certain. Psmith had noticed. sir? He has them on. he would have achieved his object. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. "His boots. "We have here. by a devious and snaky route. that they would be in the basket downstairs. sir--no. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded." Mr. and dumped is down on the study floor. our genial knife-and-boot boy. sir. prompting these manoeuvres. I noticed them as he went out just now. Such a moment came to Mr." said Mr. or it might mean that he had been out all the time." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one." he said. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. sir. "I should say at a venture. trembling with excitement." said Psmith affably. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. "go and bring that basket to me here. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. at early dawn. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. and straightened out the damaged garment. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. But that there was something. collects them." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. Smith?" "Not one. Downing. Downing then. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. and bent once more to his task. "a fair selection of our various bootings. he did not know. Psmith leaned against the wall. sir. Boots flew about the room." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. "Smith!" he said excitedly. Edmund. If he had been wise. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. I believe. Downing stooped eagerly over it.

"No. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night." he said. Downing left the room." "Come with me. rose to his feet. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. I shall take this with me.the basket. of course." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. on the following day. Downing reflected. sir?" "Certainly not." he said. "That's the lot." he said. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake. one puts two and two together. Thither Mr. when Mr. boot-maker. After a moment Psmith followed him. Smith. Bridgnorth. sir?" Mr. Leave the basket here. sir. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot. In his hand he held a boot. and when. Smith. with an exclamation of triumph." Mr. The ex-Etonian. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. The headmaster was in his garden. rising. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. Downing made his way. and. and doing so." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. "Indeed?" he said. "Put those back again. understood what before had puzzled him. At last he made a dive. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. Psmith took the boot." "Shall I carry it. . "Ah. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. might be a trifle undignified. Psmith looked at it again. It was "Brown." as he did so. then." "Shall I put back that boot. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. sir. "I think it would be best. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. Downing had finished. carrying a dirty boot. Downing. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. You can carry it back when you return. began to pick up the scattered footgear. He knew nothing. of course. "Yes.

"There was paint on this boot. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. fixed stare. I brought it on purpose to show to you. Mr. putting on a pair of look at--This. "now let me so. Just Mr. Smith. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr." said the headmaster. red or otherwise. you say. Mr." "This is foolery. "who was remarkably subject----" . These momentary optical delusions are. er. the cynosure of all eyes. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. Psmith. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. I fancy. Smith will bear me out in this. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care." said Psmith chattily. "You must have made a mistake. Just. There was no paint on this boot. It was a broad splash right across the toe. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. Of any suspicion of paint."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. sir. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. Downing. this boot with exactly where Mr. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild.. Mr.. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest. putting up his eyeglass." The headmaster interposed. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe.. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. But. sir. is the--? Just so." he said vehemently. Downing. not uncommon. I saw it with my own eyes. Downing was the first to break the silence.

" "Really." "You are very right. sir. if I may----?" "Certainly." said Psmith with benevolent approval. "My theory." said the headmaster. sir?" . sir?" said Psmith. Mr. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. Mr. If Mr. Smith. had not time to fade. really. Downing. at the moment. Smith. "What did you say. sir." "I am reading it. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed. Downing." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. with simple dignity. "for pleasure." murmured Psmith. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. "Well. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness. I cannot have been mistaken. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. Downing looked searchingly at him. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. The goaded housemaster turned on him. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it." "Yes. Downing. Shall I take the boot with me." said the headmaster. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. Smith. "You had better be careful. The afternoon sun. consequently." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. The picture on the retina of the eye." said Psmith." said Psmith. is that Mr." said Mr. Smith?" "Did I speak. he did not look long at the boot. "May I go now." "It is undoubtedly black now. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. Mr." "Exactly. sir. "that is surely improbable."It is absurd. Downing recollects. sir. I remember thinking myself. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. I can assure you that it does not brush off. sir. streaming in through the window. "My theory." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. Downing shortly. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove." "A sort of chameleon boot.

" he said." he said. and turning in at Outwood's gate. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. with a sigh. laid down his novel. "Brain. On arriving at the study. Outwood's at that moment saw what. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. hurried over to Outwood's. Psmith. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. The scrutiny irritated Mr. Downing. was a most unusual sight. Downing was brisk and peremptory. Smith. he reflected. and the latter. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. "Sit down. and Mr." he said to himself approvingly." . and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. he." said the housemaster. he raced down the road. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. sir?" "Yes. if they had but known it. too. having included both masters in a kindly smile. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. every time. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. Psmith and Mike. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. were friends. Smith. "I wish to look at these boots again. Without brain. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. On this occasion. Mr. in fact the probability. The possibility. Downing appeared. and lock the cupboard. Put it away. that ridiculous glass. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers." Psmith sat down again. and rose to assist him. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. left the garden. "That thing. the spectacle of Psmith running. "I can manage without your help. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. "Put that thing away. where are we? In the soup."If Mr. however.

Downing rapped the door irritably. but each time without success. Smith." ." "May I read. Possibly an old note-book. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. Downing. perhaps. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. "Just a few odd trifles. sir. He went through it twice. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. he stood up. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. After the second search." "I think you will find that it is locked. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. There was very little cover there. "Yes. sir?" "Yes. after fidgeting for a few moments. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. "Don't sit there staring at me." "I guessed that that was the reason." "Open it." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. sir. We do not often use it. now thoroughly irritated. who. and looked wildly round the room. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. He rested his elbows on his knees. and Mr." "Never mind." Mr. and his chin on his hands. sir. "Yes. The floor could be acquitted. read if you like. of harbouring the quarry. "Smith!" he said. Nothing of value or interest. This cupboard. on sight. A ball of string. lodged another complaint. sir?" asked Psmith. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. sir. sir." Psmith took up his book again." "I was interested in what you were doing. patiently."Why." "Thank you. His eye roamed about the room. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way.

He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile."Unlock it. And he knew that. But when it came to breaking up his furniture. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. Smith?" he inquired acidly. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. Downing paused. "I don't believe a word of it." "But where is the key." Psmith got up. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. "go and find Mr. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place." Mr. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. and ask him to be good . Jackson might have taken it. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard." he said. And I know it's not Mr. you must get his permission. "Yes. Smith would be alone in the room. I shall break open the door. if Smith were left alone in the room. sir. I am only the acting manager. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. "Smith. sir. Mr. staring into vacancy. If you wish to break it open. perhaps----! On the other hand. Outwood. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me. Downing thought for a moment. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith." Mr. Outwood. to whom that cupboard happens to belong." Mr. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. Then he was seized with a happy idea." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. sir. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. amazed. sir. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. Outwood." he said shortly. Downing stared. He also reflected.

"I take my stand." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. "If you will let me explain. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. Outwood's house. your word would be law." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. I say to myself. "Yes." Psmith still made no move. "Thwarted to me face. to take a parallel case. sir. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. I would do the rest. 'Psmith. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. Outwood at once.enough to come here for a moment. So in my case. sir." "one cannot. 'Mr. One cannot. ha. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. and explain to him how matters stand. Outwood. I would fly to do your bidding. Outwood. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. His manner was almost too respectful. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. as who should say. "_Quick_. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . however. and come back and say to me. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. sir. "on a technical point." he said. Downing's voice was steely. If you pressed a button. But in Mr. "Go and find Mr. Smith?" Mr. Mr. I ought to have remembered that before. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. Smith." he said. Mr. "Do you intend to disobey me. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. who resumed the conversation." "What!" "Yes. Smith. "Let us be reasonable. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. as if he had been asked a conundrum. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly." he continued. If you will go to Mr.

Mr. Smith. Smith. Downing was in the study. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. and. When he returned. the latter looking dazed." added Psmith pensively to himself. Downing wishes me to do. sir. Placing this in the cupboard. and washed off the soot. at any rate. unlocked the cupboard. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. Downing suspiciously. "Where have you been. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. when it had stopped swinging. there will be a boot there when you return. Then he turned to the boot." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face. "But." snapped the sleuth. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. A shower of soot fell into the grate. Downing sharply. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear." added Mr. Downing stalked out of the room." why he should not do so if he wishes it. sir. Outwood." "I can assure you." said Mr. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. You see my difficulty." "H'm!" said Mr." "My dear Outwood. Outwood with spirit. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. and thrust it up the chimney. "Smith. Outwood. he went to the window." Mr. as the footsteps died away. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. "I have been washing my hands. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. and with him Mr. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. Outwood. He tied the other end of the string to this. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. and let the boot swing free. "Yes." . he re-locked the door." He took the key from his pocket. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. blackening his hand. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. "Very well. and took out the boot. Smith?" asked Mr. He noticed with approval. On a level with the sill the water-pipe.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. He went there. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. I shall not tell you again. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string.

"This is not the boot. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment. Outwood started."Exactly. He never used them. At any rate. Outwood with asperity. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. and painted my dog Sampson red. none at all. Psmith'a expression said. Last night a boy broke out of your house." said Psmith. Mr. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. "Did you place that boot there. glaring at Psmith. Smith?" "I must have done." said Mr. Let me see." he said. Then." Mr. round-eyed. The cupboard." "I wondered where that boot had got to. Downing was examining his find. Downing shortly. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. Downing?" interrupted Mr. Have you any objection?" Mr. "I told you. with any skeletons it might contain. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. if you look at it sideways." "It certainly appears. "to be free from paint. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door. "Why?" "I don't know why." said Psmith. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. "This boot has no paint on it." said Psmith sympathetically. The wood splintered. "I've been looking for it for days. belonging to Mike. Outwood. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr." he added helpfully. sir. and tore the boot from its resting-place. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor." "If I must explain again. Now. "You have touched the spot. my dear Outwood." "He painted--!" said Mr. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. There's a sort of reddish glow just there." "So with your permission. "Objection? None at all. do you understand?" Mr. was open for all to view. "We must humour him. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. my dear fellow." he said. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . Mr. sir. he did. "I told you. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. Downing seized one of these. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. Outwood. approvingly.

You have done yourself no good by it. sir. once more. and one could imagine him giving Mr. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. sir. sir." "It's been great fun. "WHAT!" . He bent down to "Dear me." "No." argued Psmith. "Fun!" Mr. "We all make mistakes. SMITH?"] "Yes. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE." said Psmith patiently. my dear Watson. You were not quite clever enough. "Ah. Unfortunately. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there.") Mr. Smith?" he asked slowly. from earth to heaven.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment." he said. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. nearly knocking Mr." "You would have done better. Mr. He looked up. not to have given me all this trouble. and thrust an arm up into the unknown. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods." he said. "I thought as much." said Psmith. "Animal spirits. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. Downing laughed grimly. hard knock. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. Downing a good. after all. Apply them. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. though. Outwood had the grate. Downing's eye. Smith." Mr. he used the sooty hand. It should have been done before. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. Smith. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. sir. and a thrill went through him. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. Outwood off his feet. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. but he ignored it. baffled. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. A little more. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. Downing.

most. sir." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. * * * * * When they had gone. Mr. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. intervened. In the language of the Ring." Then he allowed Mr. It would take a lot of cleaning. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. You are quite black. You must come and wash it. for the time being. The boot-cupboard was empty. you present a most curious appearance. at the back of the house." What Mr. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. but on the whole it had been worth it. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. It is positively covered with soot. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. and hauled in the string. "Soot!" "Your face is covered."Animal spirits. Outwood. quite covered. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. It seemed to him that. Psmith went to the window. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Really. "I say you will hear more of it." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. he took the count. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. worked in some mysterious cell. as he had said. Smith. For. for a man of refinement. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. positively. . just as he was opening his mouth. far from the madding crowd. Mr. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. sir. my dear fellow. accordingly. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. and it was improbable that Mr. until he should have thought out a scheme. Downing had found the other. he went up to the study again. Edmund. soap. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. at about the same height where Mr. "My dear Downing. of course. though one can guess roughly. He went down beneath it. Having restored the basket to its proper place. It had been trying. and sponges. "You will hear more of this. and it had cut into his afternoon. His fears were realised. "your face. Let me show you the way to my room. he saw. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. It was the knock-out. the boot-boy." he said." said Psmith." he said.

"I may have lost a boot. if the day is fine. There was nothing." replied Edmund to both questions. At a school. It was not altogether forgetfulness. I can still understand sound reasoning. for instance. "Jones. Mr. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand." he said. sir. and then said. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. he should not wear shoes. "No. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. Psmith was no exception to the rule. Jackson. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. which one observes naturally and without thinking. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. "One? What's the good of that. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. thank goodness. should he prefer them." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. he thought. I mean--Oh. had no views on the subject. "Great Scott. there's the bell. So Psmith kept his own counsel. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. Mr.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found. So in the case of boots. but. "'Ere's one of 'em. Edmund. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. But. Boys say. Jackson. the thing creates a perfect sensation." as much as to say." "Well. to be gained from telling Mike." Edmund turned this over in his mind. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. if he does. "Well. Edmund. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. There is no real reason why. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. dash it.

but they feel it in their bones. as he usually did. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. "I have lost one of my boots. sir. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. Mr. turning to Stone. called his name. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. stiffening like a pointer. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. was taken unawares. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. Stone. had regarded Mike with respect. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. as worms.. with a few exceptions. "Yes. On one occasion. Jackson?" "Pumps. of a vivid crimson. Downing. yes. accordingly. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. Satire. They cannot see it. he floundered hopelessly. sir?" said Mike.. abuse. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . He waged war remorselessly against shoes. or else to pull one of them off. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. sir. lines. Downing who gave trouble. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. Then. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. Mike. looking on them. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. he told him to start translating." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. and finally "That will do." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. It was only Mr. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. leaning back against the next row of desks. Downing's lips." mechanically. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. and the form. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. He said "Yes.. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. and the subsequent proceedings. Mr. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots.

They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. sir. Mr." . Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. yawning and heavy-eyed. gnawing his bun." said Stone. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. Downing feel at that moment. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. consequently." said Stone. and sped to the headmaster. Mike himself. match on the Wednesday. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. he gathered up his gown.C. that searching test of cricket keenness. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. with the explanation that he had lost a boot. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. Downing's mind was in a whirl. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. and no strain. it is no joke taking a high catch. In view of the M.C." "Personally. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. Mike's appearance in shoes. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. I mean. Until the sun has really got to work. "I don't intend to stick it. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. came to a momentous decision. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast.returned. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. and the first American interviewer. in the cool morning air. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. said. "Wal. They played well enough when on the field. As a rule." said Robinson. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. and all that sort of thing. jumping on board. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided." "I shouldn't wonder. however. "It's all rot. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. to wit. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. His case was complete. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. compared with Mike's. Rushing about on an empty stomach. completed the chain. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. which nobody objects to.

" "I don't think he will kick us out. and the chance of making runs greater. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. are easily handled." he said briskly.C.C. The majority. "Let's. then he finds himself in a difficult position. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school. either. Stone was the first to recover. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. You two must buck up. At breakfast that morning thought. found himself two short. it's such absolute rot. after all? Only kick us out of the team. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay. Mr. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. Barnes. you know." he said. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. he'd better find somebody else. "at six. You were rotten to-day. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow."Nor do I. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. Which was not a great help." "Yes. consequently." At this moment Adair came into the shop. of course. Downing. Stone and Robinson felt secure." "I mean. "He can do what he likes about it. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives. and. what can he do. who his right. with a scratch team. Besides. With the majority." "All right." And he passed on. had no information to give. The result of all this was that Adair. "Rather." "Nor do I. And I don't mind that. but in reality he has only one weapon. Barnes was among those present. Taking it all round. as they left the shop. questioned on the subject." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. He can't play the M. wherever and however made. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. If he does." said Robinson. the keenness of those under him. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice." Their position was a strong one. practically helpless. unless he is a man of action. leaving the two malcontents speechless. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for.

." he said. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects." "Sorry it bored you. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. Adair!" "Don't mention it. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson." Adair's manner became ominously calm. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself." "Oh?" "Yes. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. physical or moral. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. "We didn't turn up. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. I suppose?" "That's just the word. "Hullo. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. who. who left the lead to Stone in all matters. He resolved to interview the absentees. We didn't give it the chance to. not having seen the paper. To-day. "You were rather fed-up." Robinson laughed appreciatively. "Sorry." said Stone. "We decided not to." "It didn't. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. however. said nothing.daily paper before the bell rang. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. He never shirked anything. Many captains might have passed the thing over. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind. "I know you didn't. Stone spoke.

We've told you we aren't going to. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row. So we're all right. but he said it without any deep conviction. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast. Of course." "That'll be a disappointment. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. Adair." "Well. "Right. Don't be late. as you seem to like lying in bed." said Stone. you can kick us out of the team. "I wasn't ready. You won't find me there. Robinson?" asked Adair." "You don't think there is? You may be right." "You can turn out if you feel like it." said Robinson. We'll play for the school all right. if you like. and was standing in the middle of the open space. Adair had pushed the table back." said the junior partner in the firm. you're going to to-morrow morning." said Stone." said Adair quietly. "There's no joke. but we don't care if you do. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. "You cad. "It's no good making a row about it. and knocked him down." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. All the same. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. "I was only thinking of something. I think you are. He was up again in a moment." "That's only your opinion." "What!" "Six sharp." "I'll give you something else to think about soon. Shall we go on?" . you are now." Stone intervened. Adair. with some haste. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you. Nor Robinson?" "No."What's the joke." "Good. You must see that you can't do anything. I'll give you till five past six." "Don't be an ass.

"Thanks." "I'll go and see. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. "You don't happen to know if he's in." said Stone. but he was cooler and quicker. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. even in a confined space. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table. and he knew more about the game. "All right." he said hastily. I don't know if he's still there. "Thanks. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair." "Good. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. "I'll turn up. But science tells. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair." said Adair. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction. How about you." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike. "All right. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair." said Adair." said Adair. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago." Stone made no reply. He was not altogether a coward. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief.Stone dashed in without a word.

Which. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season.. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. * * * * * Psmith. It might have made all the difference. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. The M. In school cricket one good batsman. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer." he said. said Strachan. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. The Incogs. He's had a . made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. Altogether. and went on reading. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. fortunately. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. led by Mike's brother Reggie. when his resentment was at its height. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles.C. everything had gone wrong. And it was at this point. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. "If you ask my candid opinion. the fast bowler. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. was off. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. including Dixon.C. If only he could have been there to help. looking up from his paper. Mike mourned over his suffering school. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. entered the room. was hard lines on Ripton.on below stairs. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. Since this calamity. A broken arm. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. which had been ebbing during the past few days. returned with a rush. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. The Ripton match. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. wrote Strachan. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. In fact. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. This was one of them. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. Psmith was the first to speak. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. that Adair.

but it was pretty lively while it did." said Adair. "There are lines on my face. "has led your footsteps to the right place." "What do you want?" said Mike. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. Speed is the key-note of the present age. We must Do It Now. go thee. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. the poacher." he sighed. "Certainly. is waiting there with a sandbag." said Psmith. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute." said Psmith approvingly. "I'm not the man I was.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. "We weren't exactly idle. Adair was looking for trouble. sitting before you. dark circles beneath my eyes." "That. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing." he said. For some reason." said Mike. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. I thought that you and he were like brothers. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise.C. Care to see the paper. The fact that the M. He could not quite follow what all this was about. Leave us.C. Adair. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks." said Adair. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. Despatch." Mike got up out of his chair. "Surely. We must be strenuous. "It didn't last long. I'll none of thee. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. "is right. knave. Promptitude. That is Comrade Jackson. We would brood." said Adair grimly. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson." Psmith turned away. Oh. Stone chucked it after the first round." said Psmith." . We----" "Buck up. It won't take long. the Pride of the School. This is no time for loitering." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. Shakespeare." "Fate. after a prolonged inspection. I bet Long Jack. which might possibly be made dear later. too." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour. We must hustle. "I'll tell you in a minute. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school.

and in that second Psmith. "Oh?" said Mike at last." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. You aren't building on it much.?" he asked curiously." "I don't think so. turning to Mike.C. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. Mike looked at Adair." Mike took another step forward. "it's too late to alter that now." he added philosophically. Adair moved to meet him. Mike said nothing. He said he wouldn't. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass." replied Adair with equal courtesy. "I am.C. are you?" said Mike politely. "are a bit close together. "I get thinner and thinner." Mike drew a step closer to Adair." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. There was an electric silence in the study.C. . so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. so we argued it out." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M. to-morrow. I know." "My eyes." added Adair.C. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another. He's going to all right." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes. and Adair looked at Mike. "So are you. So is Robinson. turning from the glass. and I want you to get some practice. isn't it?" "Very. "I'm going to make you. "What makes you think I shall play against the M.said Adair." Mike remained silent." said Psmith regretfully. rather. stepped between them. However. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think.

only a few yards down the road. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. In a boxing competition. as a rule. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. "The rounds. It was this that saved Mike. without his guiding hand. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. I suppose you must. then." After which. with a minute rest in between. Smith." he said placidly. however much one may want to win." said Mike. hates the other. . If you really feel that you want to scrap." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. Up to the moment when "time" was called. If Adair had kept away and used his head. The latter was a clever boxer."Get out of the light. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. "My dear young friends. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. where you can scrap all night if you want to. what would have been. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. On the present occasion. producing a watch. But school fights. Dramatically. I lodge a protest. In a fight each party. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. a mere unscientific scramble. nothing could have prevented him winning. and are consequently brief and furious. one was probably warmly attached to him. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. Time." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. Directly Psmith called "time. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. Are you ready. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise." he said. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. one does not dislike one's opponent. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. "will be of three minutes' duration. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair.

that there was something to be said for his point of view. so he hit out with all his strength. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. There was a swift exchange of blows." said Psmith." said Psmith. At the same time. but with all the science knocked out of him. he threw away his advantages. and. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. . He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. Then he lurched forward at Mike. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. He rose full of fight." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. Mike could not see this." "Is he hurt much. I shouldn't stop. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. I think. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. We may take that. If it's going to be continued in our next. "Brief. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. Mike had the greater strength. He got up slowly and with difficulty. The feat presented that interesting person. was strange to him. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. after all. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. He abandoned all attempt at guarding.As it was. but Jackson. In the excitement of a fight--which is. the deliverer of knock-out blows. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. as anybody looking on would have seen. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. He went in at Mike with both hands. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. You go away and pick flowers. and then Adair went down in a heap. and he was all but knocked out. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. the cricketer. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. that Adair was done. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. do you think?" asked Mike. "but exciting. This finished Adair's chances. coming forward. The Irish blood in him. Psmith saw. he knew. I'll look after him. thirty seconds from the start. however. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. Jackson. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. Mike Jackson. if I were you. now rendered him reckless. which would do him no earthly good. "_He's_ all right.

" said Mike indignantly. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. He's not a bad cove. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. We have been chatting. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. He had come to this conclusion. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. As a start. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. Psmith straightened his tie." said Mike. Jones. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it.C. My eloquence convinced him. of course?" "Of course not.C." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. had the result which most fights have. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more." "He's all right. before. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. if possible. in fact. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. It's not a bad idea in its way. why not?" .The fight.' game. "Look here. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. to a certain extent. to return to the point under discussion. "Sha'n't play." he said. not afraid of work. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. when Psmith entered the study. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. Where. You didn't. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons." continued Psmith. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. and drained the bad blood out of him. There was a pause. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. but every one to his taste. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. It shook him up. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. after much earnest thought. However.

and after a while I gave up the struggle. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass." Mike stared." said Psmith." "----Dismiss it. I did think. I fought against it. that I had found a haven of rest. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. Smith. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. "You're what? You?" "I. You said you only liked watching it. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve." "Quite right." "You're rotting." said Psmith. _I_ am playing. I turn out to-morrow. bar rotting."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. when I came here. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. Comrade Jackson. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. where was I? Gone. And in time the thing becomes a habit. I hate to think. Last year. "my secret sorrow. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night. but it was useless. However----" . but it was not to be. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. "If your trouble is. and drifted with the stream. but look here. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. But when the cricket season came." "You wrong me." said Psmith. and polishing it with his handkerchief. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. little by little." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock." "No. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. What Comrade Outwood will say. I do. breathing on a coat-button.

which had been gathering all day. I'll write a note to Adair now. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. Here was he. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. Close the door gently after you. therefore. I'll go round. Then in a flash Mike understood. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. A moment later there was a continuous patter. Downing's and going to Adair's study. A spot of rain fell on his hand. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change.C. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. Since the term began. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn. And they had both worked it off. But. I don't know. "At this rate. but he read Psmith's mind now. Anyhow. wavering on the point of playing for the school. Mike turned up his coat-collar. It's nothing bad." "That's all right.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player." "Not a bad scheme. "there won't be a match at all . Mike found that his late antagonist was out. but useless to anybody who values life." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. it went. "if you're playing. Adair won't be there himself.C. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance." he said to himself. broke in earnest. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide. Psmith whimsically. He's not playing against the M. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. the recalcitrant. If Psmith. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. You won't have to. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. "By Jove. I'll play. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven." "I say. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. and here was Psmith. and ran back to Outwood's. He was not by nature intuitive." On arriving at Mr. as the storm. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. He's sprained his wrist." he said.

after behaving well for some weeks. it does the thing thoroughly. Three if one didn't hurry. though. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. These moments are always isn't it?" said Mike. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. Mike. They walked on in silence. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. . damp and depressed. "About nine to. "It's only about ten to." Another silence." * * * * * When the weather decides." "Beastly nuisance when one does. in the gentle. to show what it can do in another direction. if one didn't hurry. Adair fished out his watch. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen." "I hate having to hurry over to school." "So do I. while figures in mackintoshes." "Yes." "Oh. Might be three." "Yes. crawl miserably about the field in couples." "Yes." "Good. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping." "Beastly." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school. met Adair at Downing's gate. So do I. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. yes. shouldn't you?" "Not much more. and then the rain began again. We've got plenty of time. I should think. with discoloured buckskin boots. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet." "I often do cut it rather fine. "Right ho!" said Adair.

" "Rummy. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week. thanks. Smith turning out to be a cricketer. I say.." "Yes." "Oh.. It was my fault." "Now that you and Smith are going to play." "Oh. rot." "I bet you I shouldn't. scowling at his toes. "I don't know. no. I say."Beastly day.. doesn't it?" "Rotten. It looks pretty bad.. no. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully.." said Mike. "Rotten.." "Oh." "Oh." "Oh. thanks awfully for saying you'd play. I should think he'd be a hot bowler. "awfully sorry about your wrist." "Yes." "What's the time?" asked Mike. "I say. rather not." "We've heaps of time. that's all right.. It was only right at the end." "I bet you anything you like you would." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself.. rot. probably." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. just before the match." "Good." said Adair.. with his height. Jolly hard luck. no. we ought to have a jolly good season." . that's all right. Adair produced his watch once more. You'd have smashed me anyhow." Silence again. "Five to. Less." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year.

and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. no." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith. as it were: for now. and blundered into a denunciation of the place. for the second time in two days. really. Mike." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. after the way you've sweated. Smith told me you couldn't have done. rotten little hole. I know. "Yes. So they ought to be."Yes." "Oh." "I didn't want to play myself. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. Everybody's as keen as blazes. and come to a small school like this. "I say. I wouldn't have done it. that's all right." "It was rotten enough. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. "What rot!" he said. I know. fortunately. on the Chinese principle. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh." "No. . Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. isn't it?" or words to that effect. not playing myself. heaps. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. no. He eluded the pitfall. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness." "Of course not." "No." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. It was only for a bit." "He never even asked me to get him a place. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh." Adair shuffled awkwardly. even if he had." "Of course. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment.

except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle. "By jove. I wish we could play." he said." Mike stopped. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. "I can't have done. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much. Downing or a black-beetle." "He isn't a bad sort of chap." said Adair. we've got a jolly hot lot." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. who doesn't count. We'd better be moving on. with a grin." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. We sha'n't get a game to-day." "It might clear before eleven. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. because I'm certain. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith."I've always been fairly keen on the place. lot a really good hammering. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. they're worse. now that you and Smith are turning out. I must have looked rotten. We've got math. when you get to know him. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. Hullo. and it would be rather rot playing it without you.C. and really. As you're crocked. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record. I've never had the gloves on in my life. so I don't see anything of him all day. till the interval. You'd better get changed. and the bowling isn't so bad. There's quite decent batting all the way through. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. of anything like it. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. As for the schools. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. They'd simply laugh at you. I'm not sure that I care much. "_You_ were all right. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. which won't hurt me." said Mike." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. there's the bell.C." . "if that's any comfort to you. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. Dash this rain." "All right. I never thought of it before. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. I don't know which I'd least soon be. You see. If only we could have given this M. They began to laugh. I got about half a pint down my neck just then." "What! They wouldn't play us. then. My jaw still aches. anyhow. and hang about in case. with you and Smith. at the interval. we'd walk into them. You've been sweating for years to get the match on." "I don't know that so much.

After which the M. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. edge away. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. Mr. and the first Sedleigh _v_."Yes. if you like. We'll smash them.C. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. The whisper flies round the clubs. M. That's the worst of being popular. leaving Psmith." he said at last. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. For the moment I am baffled. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. "By Jove. and went off. At least. and would be glad if Mike would step across. match was accordingly scratched. The two teams.C. he worked at it both in and out of school. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. wandering back to the house. Mike and Psmith. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. had not confided in him. regretfully agreed.C. "this incessant demand for you." said Psmith. it seemed. Downing. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. Mike. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. The messenger did not know. And they aren't strong this year. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. I'm pretty sure they would. To which Adair." Mike changed quickly. So they've got a vacant date." said Psmith. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness. without looking up. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. Meanwhile. "A nuisance.C. the captain. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house. If he wants you to stop to tea. approaching Adair. after hanging about dismally. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. 'Psmith is baffled. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. was agitated. yesterday. they would. with a message that Mr. captain. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it.'" . You come and have a shot. I had a letter from Strachan.

or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down." "_Did_ you. The thing's a stand-off." "He thinks I did it." said Mike shortly. by the way?" asked Psmith. "My dear man." said Psmith." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. "I didn't." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. "Me." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots. He as good as asked me to. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it."The man's an absolute drivelling ass." "Evidence!" said Mike. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did. But. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right." "I know. As far as I can see. Give you a nice start in life. you know all about that." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act. I believe he's off his nut. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened. dash it. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship." said Mike warmly. . But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. "No. "Which it was. pretty nearly. he's been crawling about.

" said Psmith. right in the cart. Psmith listened attentively. and reach up the chimney." he said mournfully.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. It must have been the paint-pot. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now.Why. it was like this. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. if any. That's how he spotted me. you were with him when he came and looked for them." "I don't know what the game is. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. "Say on!" "Well. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't." said Psmith. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone. Get it over. I have landed you. Of course I've got two pairs." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. and it's nowhere about." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. But what makes him think that the boot. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. meaning to save you unpleasantness. . Edmund swears he hasn't seen it. "It _is_. 'tis not blood. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint." said Mike. so he thinks it's me. and glared at it. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER. but one's being soled." Psmith sighed. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. In my simple zeal. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. kneeling beside the fender and groping." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. with a dull. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him." said Psmith." "Yes. sickening thud. "your boot. "Comrade Jackson." "It is true. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show. and is hiding it somewhere. It is red paint. Be a man. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me.

and go out and watch the dandelions growing." "_He'll_ want you to confess. I shall get landed both ways. You never know. I can't." "Possibly. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. Masters are all whales on confession. and try to get something out of me." he said. "It _is_ a tightish place. taking it all round." "Well. collecting a gang. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. you see. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. so to speak. So. or some rot. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. too. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. You had better put the case in my hands. I suppose not. You see. and the chap who painted Sammy. and he said very well. I will think over the matter. that he is now on the war-path. This needs thought. and I said I didn't care." he admitted." "I suppose not." "Sufficient. he must take steps. inspecting it with disfavour. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. I hope you'll be able to think of something. The worst of it is." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. in connection with this painful affair. then." . I say. was it?" "Yes. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all."This. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. I take it. "quite sufficient. and forgot all about it? No? No." said Mike. that was about all. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. too. by any chance. Downing chased me that night. That was why I rang the alarm bell. when Mike had finished. in a moment of absent-mindedness. are the same. and--well." "Probably. "Not for a pretty considerable time. you can't prove an alibi. I hadn't painted his bally dog. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me." Psmith pondered. I _am_ in the cart." said Psmith. they're bound to guess why." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. If I can't produce this boot. then. which was me." asked Psmith." "What exactly.

" A small boy. Downing. Downing which hung on the wall. "Tell him to write. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. Stout denial is the thing. heaved himself up again. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. "An excellent likeness." said Mr. "They now knock before entering. "Just you keep on saying you're all right. when the housemaster came in. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. "Don't go. answered the invitation. Jackson will be with him in a moment.There was a tap at the door. Don't go in for any airy explanations. Downing shortly. sir. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. Jackson. Thence. and." said Psmith. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. I say. He had not been gone two minutes. You can't beat it. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. who had leaned back in his chair." said Mike to Psmith." "Ha!" said Mr. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage." "I told you so." said Psmith encouragingly. He was." said Psmith." He turned to the small boy. "_You're_ all right." The emissary departed." With which expert advice. He was examining a portrait of Mr. Simply stick to stout denial. sir. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. Smith." he added. caught sight of him. "Oh. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting. "All this is very trying. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel." suggested Psmith. "See how we have trained them. passed away. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith. who had just been told it was like his impudence. at the same dignified rate of progress. Come in. "Tell Willie. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog. wrapped in thought. "Is Mr. "Well." said Psmith. when Psmith." Mike got up. and requested to wait. he allowed Mike to go on his way." he said. "that Mr. . Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. it seemed. The postman was at the door when he got there.

CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. "but----" "Not at all. it was not Jackson. as he sat and looked at Mike. As it happened. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. sir. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. but boys nearly always do. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. He could not believe it. do not realise this. It was a boy in the same house."I did it." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. as a rule. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. "Mr. but anybody. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. The headmaster was just saying. "No. Downing. any more than he could imagine doing it himself." said Psmith. unsupported by any weighty evidence. except possibly the owner of the dog. A voice without said. Downing had laid before him. would have thought it funny at first. Smith. Mr. "I would not have interrupted you. Masters. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. and the headmaster. "I do not think you fully realise." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. As for Psmith . sir. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. After the first surprise. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. felt awkward. The atmosphere was heavy. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. Downing. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. Downing to see you. especially if you really are innocent. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. It was a kid's trick." said Mr. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. Jackson. what it got was the dramatic interruption. who committed the--who painted my dog." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised.

or even thankful." "No." He had reached the door. no. what did you wish to say." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. sir." said the headmaster. "Adair!" . "It was about Sammy--Sampson. Well. certainly. and er--. "Ah. "Yes. Mr. So Mr. hardly listening to what Mr. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. who was nodding from time to time. sir. when again there was a knock. if possible. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom." said the Head.having done it. "Smith!" said the headmaster." he said. Downing leaped in his chair. tell Smith that I should like to see him. if you are going back to your house. He sat there. Adair." "Yes. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. It was Adair. If Psmith had painted Sammy. Mike simply did not believe it. sir. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. sir. Downing was saying. Mike felt. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. Downing. Downing. Mr. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. "Oh. This was bound to mean the sack. "Certainly. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. with calm triumph. as if he had been running." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. sir?" he said. Jackson. looking at Mr. we know--." said Mr. Downing----" "It was Dunster. "May I go. Adair. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. "Come in.

that Psmith. sir. he remembered dizzily. sir. but not particularly startling. Downing. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. had left the school at Christmas. Downing. Downing snorted. "Adair!" "Yes. It was a . Then I met Smith outside the house." Mr. He rolled about. despite the evidence against him. Why Dunster. but he wasn't in the house. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. who. the dog." said the headmaster. perhaps." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. Downing at once. I tried to find Mr. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. sir. for a rag--for a joke. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. I'd better tell Mr. and he told me that Mr. in the words of an American author. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. too. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. sir. And why. if Dunster had really painted the dog. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. "Yes. should be innocent. "But Adair. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. Well. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. His brain was swimming.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice." "Smith told you?" said Mr." "I see. was guiltless. sir. He stopped the night in the village. sir. sir. Downing had gone over to see you. sir. But that Adair should inform him. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. He has left the school. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. sir." "_Laughed!_" Mr. was curious. of all people? Dunster. Downing's voice was thunderous. That Mike. "Yes. and that. two minutes after Mr." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. had played a mean trick on him.

foolish. If he did not do it. Smith. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality." said Mr." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience." said Mr. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. sir. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men. It was not long." "Another freak of Dunster's. feels that some slight apology is expected from him. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. sir. He arrived soon after Mr. sir. Barlow." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner. sir. as the butler appeared." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog." said the headmaster. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. though sure of his welcome." he said. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. The door was opened. pressing a bell. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. while it lasted. He was cheerful. I suppose. Mr. saying that he would wait. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure. "kindly go across to Mr." "The sergeant. Adair. sir. Smith is waiting in the hall. "You wished to see me. Downing. "I shall write to him. He gave the impression of one who. Barlow. Outwood's house. . "Mr. Smith." "Yes. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it." he observed. "It is still raining. sir?" "Sit down. but slightly deprecating." "If you please. sir. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr." "Thank you. Downing. but." "In the hall!" "Yes. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window." said the headmaster. discreditable thing to have done." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient." "H'm. the silence was quite solid. Ask him to step up.

Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. sir. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. "Smith. He paused again. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. "Er--Smith. when a murder has been committed." ." he said." "What!" cried the headmaster." he replied sadly. "The craze for notoriety. "The curse of the present age. "I should like to see you alone for a moment. When he and Psmith were alone. there was silence. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. Jackson." proceeded Psmith placidly. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly.Mr. I do not for a moment wish to pain you. do you remember ever having had." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. "how frequently. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair. sir. sir. let us say." "Yes. sir. Smith--" began the headmaster. "Smith. as a child. "It is remarkable." He made a motion towards the door. Then he went on. Downing burst out." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. but have you--er. "Smith. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. Mr." "But. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. "Er--Smith.

"There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr." "Well. and then I tore myself away. sir. We had a very pleasant chat." said the headmaster hurriedly. "By no means a bad old sort. Smith." .. as he walked downstairs. of sometimes apt to forget. I shall. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. "Of course. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. at last. Downing's dog. tell nobody." He held out his hand." There was a pause." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. Smith." said the headmaster.. Good-night.. We later. "Good-night. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting." said Psmith cheerfully.. of course. "Not a bad old sort. You think. sir. "What's he done?" "Nothing. Smith. sir----" Privately. "It was a very wrong thing to do. it was like this.." said Psmith meditatively to himself." said Adair. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves. "You _are_ the limit. let me hear what you wish to course. Of course. sir. This is strictly between ourselves. but he said nothing. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. You are a curious boy. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion. never mind that for the present." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know. if you do not wish it. "but. then. quite so. For the moment. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further. That was the whole thing. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. "Well?" said Mike. sir. sir." said Psmith." said Psmith. "Well. Smith.." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. the proper relations boy and--Well.

I should think they're certain to. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is. There is a certain type of ." said Mike. "Good-night." Psmith's expression was one of pain. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_." "Well. In a way one might have said that the game was over. too."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over." * * * * * "I say. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner." "What's that?" asked Psmith. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's. chuck it. "my very best love. "And it was jolly good of you. who had led on the first innings." "And give Comrade Downing. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. "By the way." said Psmith. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson." said Mike obstinately. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. You make me writhe." said he. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game. You aren't talking to the Old Man now." "Well. all the same. "My dear Comrade Jackson. Adair." said Mike suddenly. and things were going badly for Sedleigh." said Adair. Psmith. had only to play out time to make the game theirs." said Mike. I believe you did. for it was a one day match. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. I hope the dickens they'll do it. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day. "They've got a vacant date. "you wrong me. and Wrykyn. you're a marvel." said Adair." Psmith moaned. and that Sedleigh had lost. They walked on towards the houses. Psmith thanked him courteously. I'm surprised at you." "Oh. when you see him.

school batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. Sedleigh had never been proved. and were clean bowled. and . Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. Unless the first pair make a really good start. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. and from whom. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. It was likely to get worse during the day. The team listened. and he had fallen after hitting one four. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. Ten minutes later the innings was over. Whereas Wrykyn. on Mike's authority. with the exception of Adair. whatever might happen to the others. The weather had been bad for the last week. It was useless for Adair to tell them. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. and Mike. the Wrykyn slow bowler. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. July the twentieth. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. from time immemorial. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. but were not comforted. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. playing back to half-volleys. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side.C. for seventy-nine. Experience counts enormously in school matches. a collapse almost invariably ensues. as he did repeatedly. so Adair had chosen to bat first. Stone. Psmith. and the others. with Barnes not out sixteen. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. Sedleigh. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. the team had been all on the jump. this in itself was a calamity. had played inside one from Bruce. and he used it. with his score at thirty-five. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. Adair did not suffer from panic. the bulwark of the side. declined to hit out at anything. He had had no choice but to take first innings. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. Robinson. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. He had an enormous reach. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. as a rule. that Wrykyn were weak this season. several of them. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. and. assisted by Barnes. crawled to the wickets. Wrykyn had then gone in. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. but then Wrykyn cricket. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this.C. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. Mike.

and he was convinced that. all but a dozen runs. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. The deficit had been wiped off. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. their nervousness had vanished. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. having another knock. and refused to hit at the bad. when Psmith was bowled. who had taken six wickets. his slows playing havoc with the tail. restored to his proper frame of mind. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. and which he hit into the pavilion. if they could knock Bruce off. with an hour all but five minutes to go. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. And when Stone came in. But Adair and Psmith. and lashed out stoutly. they felt. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. the next pair. as they were crossing over. but it was a comfort. And they had hit. helped by the wicket. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. two runs later. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. Changes of bowling had been tried. was getting too dangerous. skied one to Strachan at cover. A quarter past six struck. who had just reached his fifty. and after him Robinson and the rest. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. at any rate. proceeded to play with caution. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. had never been easy. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. And when.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. As Mike reached the pavilion. It doesn't help my . As is usual at this stage of a match. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. The time was twenty-five past five. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. which was Psmith's. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. especially Psmith. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. at fifteen. So Drummond and Rigby. Adair declared the innings closed. and the collapse ceased. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. Psmith got the next man stumped. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. They were playing all the good balls. But. Seventeen for three. He treated all the bowlers alike. Adair bowled him. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six.

and the tail. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. got to it as he was falling. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. and five wickets were down. As a matter of fact. and chucked it up. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. After that the thing was a walk-over." said Psmith. Sedleigh was on top again. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. you see. Adair's a jolly good sort. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. "he was going about in a sort of trance. because they won't hit at them. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. playing against Wrykyn." "I suppose they will. "I feel like a beastly renegade.leg-breaks a bit. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. hitting out. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. and Mike. There were twenty-five minutes to go. Adair will have left. "Still. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. the great thing. "I say. diving to the right." said Mike. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. They can get on fixtures with decent . Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. collapsed uncompromisingly. when Adair took the ball from him. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. and it'll make him happy for weeks. Five minutes before. That's what Adair was so keen on. The batsman." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. was a shade too soon. Still." "When I last saw Comrade Adair." "Yes." said Psmith. Wrykyn will swamp them." "He bowled awfully well. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. Incidentally. I shall have left. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. he's satisfied. discussing things in general and the game in particular. is to get the thing started. I'm glad we won.

reflectively." said Psmith. If you do not charge anything for copies of this eBook. End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike. So it's all right. *** START: FULL LICENSE *** THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free distribution of electronic works.txt or 7423-8. G. unless you receive specific permission. what? Let us now sally out and see if we can't promote a rag of some sort in this abode of wrath. Shell. by P. Comrade Outwood has gone over to dinner at the School House. Wodehouse *** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE *** ***** This file should be named Produced by Suzanne L. so the Foundation (and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without permission and without paying copyright royalties. Redistribution is subject to the trademark license. Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions will be renamed. performances and research. Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no one owns a United States copyright in these works.clubs. besides. Special rules. You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose such as creation of derivative works. set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license. Shall we stagger?" They staggered. Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. reports. complying with the rules is very easy. You've got to start somehow. "in an emergency they can always get Comrade Downing to bowl for them. and work up to playing the big schools. and may not be used if you charge for the eBooks. Jim Tinsley. you see. apply to copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark. Project Gutenberg is a registered trademark. especially commercial redistribution. and it would be a pity to waste a somewhat golden opportunity. With thanks to Amherst College ***** This and all associated files of various formats will be found in: http://www. by using or distributing this work .gutenberg. They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks." "And.

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